If you were at FKA Twigs’ incredible show last night at the Palace Theatre, I’m guessing the mere mention of it is giving you goosebumps right now.
Before last night, I’d never seen FKA Twigs live. It wasn’t for lack of opportunity, though, as she’s played at festivals I attended, but I always chose other acts over her. Going forward, I can confidently say that won’t happen anymore.
The title of Twigs’ latest release is Magdalene, which is a break-up record (Sorry-not-sorry #TeamEdward) that puts those most painful moments and loneliness under a microscope and holds them there for examination. There’s a journey of ups and downs and downs further still throughout the album’s nine tracks. Going into the show, I wasn’t sure how she’d translate that in a live setting.
I don’t know how else to say this, but she translated it like a BOSS. For a person of such diminutive size, it was incredible to witness her fill the entire stage in the course of a single breath.
There was a story in the production, as she made her way through the setlist, new aspects or players would be introduced. She began alone in a single spotlight against a black curtain until her accompanying backup dancers emerged. Then the black curtain opened to reveal a second curtain featuring projections. Eventually the black curtain closed again and the dancers stepped away. It was almost as if she were tentative about the next part, about opening herself back up.
A song later, the black curtain opened for good. After a more raucous song faded out during its bridge, she let the silence steep for a good few moments before the music came crashing back in.
The whole time I was left feeling a little wanting for a source of the music. It’s understandable that she designed the focus to be on her, but it seemed a little out of character that she would just press play on a backing track and handle the rest herself. It seemed a bit inflexible, which is not a word I’d ever use to describe FKA Twigs.
It was as if she’d heard me as the second curtain fell, punctuating the crashing return of the music. It revealed a two-story, 30-foot wide scaffolding with two multi-instrumentalists on the second level and the four back-up dancers in each of the four sections along the bottom. Jutting out from the scaffolding, front and center, was a heavily reinforced vertical pole.
At this point, she disappeared for a costume change, the third or fourth change thus far. I lost count at the total number of changes, but there were a LOT. At one point, it looked as if she could easily just have pirouetted through a craft store, emerging wrapped in twine, dingle balls, ribbon, and strips of torn fabric. I know that sounds like I’m making fun of her, but I’m not. She did look like that, but she somehow pulled it off and it looked really good.
The overall aesthetic for a good portion of her show could be (albeit poorly) described as “sexy Romani pirate chic.” As you can probably guess, I’m no fashion expert, but the fashion choices were a piece of the show into which she clearly put a lot of thought and work, so it’s worth mentioning. Her fabulous dancers were adorned similarly as androgynous fuchsia accent pieces to her constantly rotating series of outfits.
Everybody who follows Twigs on Instagram knows she’s been working on her pole dancing moves and routines over the past few years. She’s steadily been getting better and better, moving with ease and improving her confidence. The climax of the night came when Twigs took to the stage in a tiny silver bikini and 6” strappy heels. She worked her way through a routine, spinning up and down the pole, and every time she rotated directly into the spotlight, her bikini issued a burst of light beams like a disco ball.
Did the crowd go wild? Yes, yes they did. I heard one woman exclaim, “OH MY GOD!” over the din of the already loud cheers.
After she got through her routine, Twigs disappeared for another costume change and it was the dancers’ turn on the pole. So they did. All of them. At the same time, on the same pole. Her dancers were something else. They bent and twisted and kicked and contorted so much over the course of the night that it seemed like they had to be made of rubber. Really sexy rubber.
If you haven’t seen FKA Twigs before, please heed my words carefully: Do not skip out on her. Do not choose anybody else at a festival going forward. If you have to choose between paying rent and a Twigs ticket, choose Twigs.