Forget the prix fixe menus and quiet conversations by candlelight. In Nashville, an arena’s worth of fans opted to spend their Valentine’s Day singing and dancing with one of pop music’s newest superstars.
British phenom Dua Lipa brought her long, long, long-awaited “Future Nostalgia” tour to Bridgestone Arena on Monday for a night of loud, neon-lit relief.
This tour, after all, has been lying in wait for more than two years.
It was first announced in December 2019, in unfortunate lockstep with the emergence of the coronavirus. The "Future Nostalgia" album followed in March, dropping as the U.S. was in the early days of lockdown. After multiple postponements, the tour kicked off Feb. 9 in Miami, Fla., and Nashville was just the fourth date on the itinerary.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers," Lipa said on stage — in one of the rare moments where the volume dipped down enough to allow for conversation.
"...We are so honored, and so happy to be here, especially after waiting two years to put this show on for you."
Given the gestation period, it probably won't surprise you to hear that the show Lipa and company have put together is beyond well-rehearsed, and synchronized down to the millisecond.
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The 26-year-old first emerged to the strains of "Physical" — which evoked Olivia Newton John's hit of the same name in its '80s sounds and aerobic choreography — in a bright yellow catsuit.
Through the first handful of songs, she glowed at the center of a solar system of tireless dancers, who twirled umbrellas, spun on roller skates and brandished heart-shaped disco balls in her orbit.
Lipa has been ribbed in the past for being a more subdued dancer than your typical pop star, but she's credited the mockery with spurring her to up her game. She's now as self-assured in that lane as she is as a vocalist — more of a cool, consistent presence than a diva aiming to set the stage ablaze. (That said, she showcased some powerful belting on "Hallucinate.")
Besides, there were several thousand fans willing to shout themselves hoarse over the course of the evening. While you had your share of couples in the crowd (and the occasional middle schooler chaperone), Monday's show seemed by-and-large to be a night spent with friends.
And that makes sense. After all, this is the singer who’s brought us “New Rules” and “Don’t Start Now” — two massive hits all about keeping the door firmly closed on a former flame, and finding refuge in your pals.
In that same spirit, a surprising highlight came in the show's second half. Much like an arena rock act will sit on a secondary stage and do some acoustic tunes, Lipa and her crew crowded at the end of the catwalk under low neon lights. There, they presented several songs in their natural habitat: a dance party, tossing out balloons to the thump of her Calvin Harris collaboration "One Kiss."
Lipa closed her traditional set with "Levitating," while taxiing from one side of the arena to another on a flying stage platform — we're starting to suspect every pop arena tour is legally required to throw one of these things in there somewhere.
She returned, of course, with the one-two punch of "Future Nostalgia's" title track and one of the best pop songs in recent memory: the disco-fueled "Don't Start Now." Between those tunes, a fan managed to toss a pink cowboy hat right at Lipa's feet, and she gamely popped it on her head and paraded up the catwalk with it.
Was that the only spontaneous moment in an ultra-rehearsed, 90-minutes-to-the-tick concert? It may have been. But after the last two years — largely spent with "Future Nostalgia's" songs booming in the background — it's nice to see something simply go according to plan.
Dua Lipa Nashville set list
Break My Heart
Be the One
Good in Bed
Boys Will Be Boys
Club Future Nostalgia
Encore: Future Nostalgia, Don't Start Now
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Dua Lipa tour Nashville concert review: A Valentine's Day dance party