By Tyler Bunzey
February 19, 2022
The crowd that packed into Charlotte’s Spectrum Arena for Dua Lipa’s show embodied her most recent album’s title: Future Nostalgia. Plush pink mink coats complemented knee-high white go-go boots. Velour bell-bottomed sweatsuits were supported by chunky euro-style sneakers. White Reeboks completed ‘90s-inspired looks rife with two-toned pastel windbreakers and loose-fitting, high-waisted jeans. It seemed that every decade since the 1960s was on display, an aesthetic that mirrored the ages of concertgoers. As expected with a pop star like Lipa, teens and tweens were the beating heart of the audience. However, couples and groups of friends well into their 60s came in healthy numbers to see the pop star, whose music attempts to bridge the sounds of their youth with today.
If concertgoers were attracted to Lipa’s generation-spanning sound, they were likely not disappointed in the performance. Fans were treated to a montage in the key of the ‘80s that introduced the dancers and Lipa herself before delving into her hit “Physical.” Neon-clad roller skaters circled her in her rendition of “Cool.” During an outfit transition, a giant lobster (the kind that could easily appear in a campy 60s horror film) attacked a cartoon Lipa on the screen. Lipa went so far as to even cover Elton John’s “Cold Heart” toward the end of her set. It was clear that anything and everything from the past was present in Lipa’s phantasmagoria, and audiences were delighted to get a wistful taste of the nostalgia.
Even though Lipa had such a rich archive to pull from, her performance fell a bit flat at times. Lipa played almost every song straight, as if they were being played back from the album. The choreography seemed simplistic, and she even regurgitated multiple choreographed numbers from live performances like her December 2020 SNL appearance. Even though the crowd was in a frenzy before her performance, they were uncharacteristically still even during some of her more upbeat hits. If future nostalgia was her aesthetic goal, the show had little of the exciting novelty of the future nor the comforting familiarity of the past.
The passivity of the crowd at times must have been inadvertent, though, because as fans trickled out after her encore of “Don’t Start Now,” grins and chattering friends were in abundance. It was clear that Lipa’s performance provided many fans with a glimpse of a pop star who rose to fame in the midst of the pandemic. For many, it seems, just spending a night dancing to the sounds of the past in the midst of our present was enough to send them happily out to face the rest of the workweek.
“Break My Heart”
“Be The One”
“Good In Bed”
“Boys Will Be Boys”
“Club Future Nostalgia”
“Don’t Start Now”