Review: Troye Sivan at O2 Forum Kentish Town, London

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Troye Sivan’s popularity in the UK has grown ten-fold in the last two years as he’s exploded onto the music scene as an advocate of LGBT. His debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, was a global critical success and just two weeks ago he was awarded the GLAAD award for Artist of the Year for his contributions to LGBT music. The reasons for this success are not hard to see, Sivan delivered a near flawless performance at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town as part of his international Blue Neighbourhood tour, which was clearly appreciated by thousands of devoted fans.

Firstly the opening act, Norwegian-singer Astrid S, is worth comment. Being an opening act is never easy, but Astrid managed to achieve what few do. Her performance was emotional and energetic and received a great audience reaction. While her opening two songs ‘Running Out’ and ‘Hyde’ received limited reaction, by the end of her seven-song set you may well have mistaken this for her gig by the applause she received. Her beat and backing was very similar to Sivan’s, and this perhaps appealed to his fans, but her style was very unique. Her vocal range was stunning and very delicate, but well-exposed against the backing. There is something very Ellie Goulding-esque about her, which helped her here (though she’ll do well to ensure she does not become too much of a copycat). Her song ‘Paper Thin’ was particularly impressive and certainly belongs in the charts, perhaps alongside ‘2am’. Overall, it was a great opening and set the mood perfectly as fans were hyped for Sivan’s entrance. This, admittedly, was delayed for near half-an-hour as fans caught a glimpse of his YouTube sensation brother, Levi. I’m sure, however, that fans would say Sivan was worth the wait.

Fans were immediately won over when Sivan entered with opening number ‘Bite’, which he had previously announced would open his shows on his YouTube blog (and many fans were clearly aware of this). Right from the start, it’s crucial to note Sivan’s capabilities to sing live. His vocal performance was on par to the album tracks themselves and this is so often not the case. This capacity to sustain a flawless vocal in an energetic set lasting 80 minutes is worthy of applause. His performance of ‘Wild’ was incredible. One of his most famous songs, and the most successful song from his EP of the same name, it was flawlessly performed and allowed Sivan to let-loose with its fun beat and uplifting lyrical arrangement. The arena was filled with an incredible energy and the audience reaction was insane, and indeed remained so for the rest of the show. It may be common for artists to go “this is the best audience so far” at the end of every show, but I would be surprised if Sivan did not genuinely mean it on this occasion.

This also exposes one of the most endearing features of Sivan’s music: his authenticity. Sivan clearly cares about his performance, his fans and how his fans interact and grow through his music. This type of authenticity is sadly rare in the music industry and is shown through his performance as well as his songs lyrics. It also then creates a great atmosphere at his shows as he engages with his fans on a person level. This is also true with his performances of ‘Heaven’, which he added was about his personal realisation “that I like boys”, and ‘Talk Me Down’ (which has been announced as his next single), which exposes Sivan’s unique vocal and allows him to employ an impressive vocal range. While his high notes do not amount to the likes of Sam Smith or Sia, they expose his vulnerability in a similar manner and allow him to show the passion that he puts in to his music. Also on this line was my surprise favourite performance of the night, ‘Too Good’, which was cleverly re-mixed to slow down the central beat and expose emotional lyrics and a stunning vocal. Lighting was also used here to incredible effect as the black-and-white spot light drew the focus exclusively on to Sivan’s vocal which did not disappoint.

His cover of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Love is a Losing Game’ was then a nice twist. His delicate cover showed Sivan’s capabilities to express his emotional connection to music even through the lyrics of another artist. Admittedly, this was not the best cover of the song ever, and fell somewhat short of Sam Smith’s recent version, while also copying its style. But it still rightfully had a place in the set-list and bought another dimension of light-and-shade to the overall performance. There was another shame, though, and that was that Sivan’s popular cover of Alessia Cara’s ‘Here’ was omitted from the set-list. I felt that would have been a perfect addition to an already impressive set, as well as a chance for Sivan to continue to express his originality as his version slows down Cara’s more upbeat backing.

Following from this was then a resurgence of energy as Sivan performed ‘Ease’ and ‘Lost Boy’. Fans were then left constantly screaming as Sivan kept lifting up his top to expose his chest and underwear. Sadly for them, chants of “take it off” were unsuccessful but bought a smile to Sivan’s face, who went on to squirt water over them all to cool them down. This was then followed by ‘Suburbia’ and ‘DKLA’ which were performed impressively against the backdrop of wire houses against blue lighting reminiscent of Sivan’s debut album. ‘DKLA’ was a nice shift in the show’s tone as the rap-sections against the slower introduction to the chorus shifted the audience’s reaction as the song progressed. Sivan, admittedly, realised this telling “those on dates” to “snuggle or whatever shit you do” before the song began. Still, it served to ensure that the set did not become repetitive, as indeed did the slower songs set against the more up-beat numbers generally.

The show then ended with a bang, epitomising the hype, as Sivan performed an original adaption of his most recent single ‘Youth’. This was clearly just a ‘happy little pill’ for Sivan’s fans who failed to stay ‘cool’ and I’m near certain that everyone’s hands were in the air by the end of the song. It was also nice to see the deeper-beat original version that he performed too. This adaption made good use of the audio capabilities of the venue and brought a more dramatic yet explosive conclusion to the evening. A fitting end.

From what has been said, it is clear that Sivan delivered an amazing show, and I have no doubt that every fan left praising his performance and without any disappointment. His set was emotional and energetic, proving exactly why his fan base is so dedicated and why Blue Neighbourhood was such a critical success. Sivan has a huge future in front of him and this is only the start of what I’m sure will be a long and prosperous career.

 

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Philosopher and Historian and major pop-fan. You can find me listening to most pop in the charts (Beyoncé and Sia are most certainly goddesses), as well as some modern jazz and classical and enjoing the occasional trip to the theatre. I'm also interested in the repurcussions of the representation of sex in modern-day media! And I might be a fan of the X Factor. Sorry, I can't help it...

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