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FKA Twigs - ICA, London 25/06/14

27 June 2014, 14:01 | Written by The Line of Best Fit

Shortly before finishing up her sold-out ICA show, FKA Twigs confessed to the room she’d been worried only her mum and her mates would show up. Judging from the packed room and rapturous response to each and every song, she must have been the only one. It was the biggest show she’d played to date - but if anything from Thursday’s performance was clear, it’s that the ICA is far from being the largest venue Twigs will be playing in the future.

Half of the hour-long set was fresh material plucked from her upcoming LP1 on XL Records. The rest were welcomingly familiar renditions from EP1 and EP2, but old or new, Twigs’ voice was pitch-perfect with meticulously complementary and enthusiastic live arrangements. Credit where it’s due to the sound team: live electronics can be hit and miss, at worst tending towards suffocatingly murky. But the entirety was crisp, enveloping, rich.

The room felt heavily industry, early-adopters of new music soaking up the hype, tweeting from the ground floor before Twigs’ highly probable ascent to popstardom. Whether loud or quiet, her on-stage presence was commanding, and in stark contrast to her sugary sweet inbetween-song banter. When the crowd wasn’t cheering and clapping it was listening in an attentive, hushed silence. Everything hit the spot with everyone - but equal applause was given to new tracks “Two Weeks”, “Pendulum” and “Lights On” as with already available material like opener “Weak Spot”, “Water Me”, and “Hide”.

“Papi Pacify” was an absolute highlight: FKA Twigs held the audience in the palm of her hands, her vocals calmly delivered but precise and pleasingly piercing, with a minimalist but entrancing light show matching her minimalistic, entrancing music. Again the production really excelled. Each meaty bass hook covered the full space without muddying at either end.

But what seems to encapsulate FKA Twigs’ released material does not necessarily translate live just yet. The slow-burning seductivity of songs like “Hide” reflect a moody, dimly-lit and private ambiance that felt a touch too personal to resonate in a larger arena at this stage in her career. At other times her more serene tracks veered towards a kind of post-slowjam Dead Can Dance - as weird as that sounds - entrancing and zen and satisfying.

Observing FKA Twigs’ career develop may just be one of the most engaging aspects to her early headline shows. There’s an undeniable flair to her performance that’s just a little bit magical, and she maintained a convincing presence throughout the entire set.

But there’s a feeling that as FKA Twigs’ confidence swells and she shapes her musical direction further there will be better moments to come. Dare we say when the hype settles, Twigs will have more breathing space to properly articulate her music in what is bound to be the start of an interesting pop career. The hour was over in what felt like minutes, keeping the audience hungry and intensely curious for what’s next to come.

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