It takes a lot of confidence to be this ridiculous.
I had been looking forward to this night for a very long time. Having stolen my heart for good when she dropped ‘Two Weeks’, ‘Video Girl’ and her LP1, I was certain seeing Twigs live would be one of the highlights of my 2015. I even chose to attend her show over D’Angelo for all my sins. So, to report that it was one of the most frustrating shows I have ever been to is truly… tragic.
Doors opened at 7 pm and we were not informed that there would be no support act. In her defence, FKA Twigs hit the stage pretty much at 9 pm but by this time we, her fans, had already been killing time for the past two hours in a very packed Roundhouse, with no space at the bar, and no choice to leave and re-enter the venue. I killed lots of time looking at beautiful merch and pre-ordering limited edition bomber jackets that were not available for sale just yet, and soaking in the wonderful illustrations on the posters on display. For sure though, technology absolutely ruined the experience for me – phones being waved in the air by tall people meant that so many of us simply could not see and with the amount of emphasis put on the visual delight of this particular musical offering, not being able to see was the final nail in the coffin. When we could see the stage – those of us who thought standing tickets would be a good idea – it was ironically because of glimpses caught on other people’s mobile phones and iPads. Twigs spent a lot of time writhing on the floor. ON THE FLOOR. I mean…
The stage was beautiful. The McQueen costumes were beautiful. She was stunning and her voice, to me, sounded as wonderfully ethereal and otherworldly live as it does on a studio produced album so she didn’t let me down there. And indeed, what a feat it must have been to sing and move so much and in the way she did. It struck me that either dance was her first love and music second, or that both art forms were so intertwined it was not fair to call this a music concert (*waits for people to say “you just don’t get her genius” or something equally as conceited*). With that in mind, and with all the attention to detail that was put into making the stage beautiful, creating spectacular dance routines, and theatrics, it would have been better if Twigs had given us this offering at a smaller table. A banquet indeed and a visual feast, it was simply lost in the space. The stage was too big and although the show was sold out – bodies everywhere – Twigs herself did not quite have the stage presence to carry it all.
Most of us were frustrated before the night had ended and people did start to leave. My friends and I were on our way out when the music stopped and we heard a tiny, sweet, vulnerable voice call for our attention. That was the first time I realised that I had actually never heard FKA Twigs speak before. Imagine.
Just as I was mulling over the disappointment of what I’d just experienced and how things could have been improved, as if reading my mind and tending directly to my gripes, she explained that not long ago she used to perform at Proud Galleries across the road and that to be in such a huge space was a personal triumph for her – a personal achievement.
And fair enough.
Twigs is extremely dedicated to visual arts. She is totally dedicated to her art. You could tell she put her soul into the entire show and I appreciate that. In fact, that is why it was so disappointing that the logistics just didn’t make sense.
Perhaps we would have benefited from screens being put up in the Main Space, then we could appreciate the floor writhing as much as Twigs loved doing it. Interestingly, she didn’t perform the vast majority of her songs in full. Extracts and snippets of the old were fused with the new, which made it even harder to focus.
Yes, FKA Twigs doesn’t drop the type of stuff you could sing along to anyway, but there were moments during the show where I was dangerously close to… dare I say it… boredom.
As Alice Vincent at The Telegraph concluded:
“…she [Twigs] was too often strangled by her own elaborate stagecraft, her otherworldly features bleached out by cannons of light.
“But Twigs’s ambition should be applauded, regardless of the consistency of its realisation. This show was paean not to her voice, but to the entirety of her musical vision. With it, she proved she has much to come – even if she has yet to acquire the stage presence to shoulder it.”
And I guess I couldn’t agree with her more.
For effort and guts I’d give Talilah Debrett-Barnett 5/5. She herself was top draw.
But for the frustrating overall experience, impracticality of the venue, the lack of engagement with the audience, and the skewed emphasis on theatrics (which would have been okay if it was a smaller and more intimate space), I, with a heavy heart have to give FKA Twigs’ headline show at Roundhouse, Camden a measly 2/5.
Better luck next time, ey?