The surroundings may have given the wrong impression to some; black drapings and clouds of dry ice adorned the stage, monochrome lighting erupted around the room whilst Li emerged in a Madonna Vogue-era black suit, appearing at points both disturbed and transfixed by the music, accentuating the melodrama of the show.
Wounded Rhymes is not so much of a break-up record, rather a detailed coroners report of the emotional car crash that is unrequited love. Not exactly the most buoyant of atmospheres you might assume? However, it’s a percussion-heavy, rhythmic wet-dream, with beats and melodies that feel like they can both incite romance and riots. It was this missed opportunity (not for a riot – we’ve all had enough of those) that let the gig down, and I think it’s fair to say this is not the fault of the artist.
Li moved around the stage like a banshee, often picking up the sticks to add yet another layer of thrashing cymbals (there were two drummers), weaving in between the drapings and dancing with her band. However, a few valiant attempts at audience participation, alas, failed to take off. Her ambitions for the live show stretched further with a number of the songs being reworked. ‘Little Bit’ was given a brilliantly executed minor-key makeover, whilst ‘Youth Knows No Pain’ segued into Kanye West’s ‘Power’, which had the desired effect of raising the levels of excitement in the fairly docile crowd. There was one misstep when closer ‘Unrequited Love’, a slow, bluesy/gospel song about, you guessed it, unrequited love, was beefed up to near Coldplay levels of OTT, when the original beauty of the song lies in it’s earnestness and simplicity.
Other than this, it was a faultless performance. The live show enhances the experience of listening to the album as the wounds for Li aren’t quite healed. Living through your art can be a painful thing, but the irony is that for the rest of us, its all the more compelling.