LIVE: FKA TWIGS – O2 Academy Brixton, 25.11.19

“How many of you came here alone tonight?” asks FKA Twigs, mid-way through her set at a sold out Brixton Academy. She’s met with cheers, prompting her to ask another question. “How many of you are single?” After a rapturous applause, she emits a shy giggle and replies “Wow, that’s a lot. How many of you have been heartbroken?” Again, the crowd fill the venue with noise. “I have been too” Twigs reveals.

It’s this heartache that underscores her latest album, Magdalene, and which has inspired her performance on the Magdalene Tour. Though her lyrics lament feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disappointment; Twigs’ live performance is the epitome of strength. Her voice is crystal clear, perfect in pitch and floats beautifully above the music. Physically, she is in peak condition. Her tap-dancing at the beginning of the show is sharply executed. The same can be said for her breathtaking sword-wielding routine, and how do we even describe the majesty of her pole dancing? Twigs is an athlete as well as an artist, and her movements are met with ecstatic eruptions of applause from her fans.

No longer the ‘Video Girl’ to the Jessie J’s of this world, FKA Twigs – aka Tahliah Debrett Barnett – sheds new light on the realities of desire and loneliness with unrivaled artistic confidence. Her set opens with the lyrics: “A woman’s work / A woman’s prerogative / A woman’s time to embrace / She must put herself first”. This is the manifesto for the Magdalene Tour, and Twigs is loyal to her vision. After performing her tap dance, she changes in to an ornate feathered headdress to perform a trio of hits – ‘Hide’, ‘Water Me’, ‘Pendulum’ – against a heavenly backdrop of blue skies, clouds, and smoke.

‘Figure 8′ brings fans back down to earth, as Twigs venomously confesses “You’re so fucking fake that it’s hurting me”, uttering the words at a speed which replicates the resentment they must’ve been written with. She articulates what others are too self-conscious to reveal; using her limbs and lyrics to dazzling effect. By now, Twigs has been joined on stage by a small entourage of dancers, who are exquisitely skilled in movement, adding further spectacle to her show.

New tracks lifted from Magdalene form the core of the set. A brief rendition of ‘Thousand Eyes’ flows into a trio of achingly beautiful tracks; ‘Mary Magdelene’, ‘Home With You’, and ‘Sad Day’. Brief interludes of ‘Fallen Alien’, and a cover of A$AP Rocky’s ‘Fukk Sleep’ preface the full glory of ‘Holy Terrain’, before Twigs breaks our hearts again with breathtaking renditions of ‘Daybed’ and ‘Mirrored Heart’. She barely pauses for breath before launching into the sensual ‘Papi Pacify’, after which she disappears from the stage as her dancers distract the crowd with more of their knockout routines.

A backdrop formed of scaffolding that holds four live musicians has been on stage for some time now, and a metal pole is in view. ‘Lights On’ begins to play, as Twigs re-emerges in her ‘Cellophane’ ornate two-piece costume, and delivers her breath-taking pole dance routine, full of seamless spins and splits. Fresh from her dazzling display, she dives in to the empowering ‘Two Weeks’, before closing the show with the divine ‘Cellophane’. Both the master and the muse: FKA Twigs is re-inventing what it means to be a performer, an artist, and a woman in the music industry. Her Magdalene Tour is a beautiful creation, and we can’t imagine a time when we won’t be enthralled by her.

Photo Credit: Matthew Stone

Kate Crudgington

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