Impressions of the performance for Radio Trójka (January 29th, 2017)

Concert Impressions | Feb 08, 2017


We’ve seen LP at a number of concerts, and we’ve seen tens of her recorded shows. More than once it was a mesmerizing experience and drove us to a state of musical bliss. But it was at Radio Trójka in that she shook us to the core.

And why? Many reasons.

LP at Radio Trójka © Paulie Photography, courtesy of the author and Forum PAF

During that particular concert every verse she sang resembled a work of art – created, prepared, thought through exactly for that moment. It’s a rarity to see an artist sing with such attention and care. LP was focused on her act exclusively – her emotions, her music and lyrics; she didn’t interact with the public while singing and, strangely, it felt like she had decided to open up this very way. It was perhaps the most mindful show of all LP performances we’ve seen.

LP had reportedly said during her previous, short visit in Radio Trójka, in August 2016, that she felt great in the Studio. This time Piotr Metz, who presented LP to the audience, cited what she said during the soundcheck a while before the concert: “I feel like, in this place, I can show what I’m capable of.” And boy, did she deliver! If we tried to compare the concert at Trójka to something, it would surely be to her Harvard & Stone live sessions.

The evening started with a short onstage conversation. LP doesn’t avoid interviews. She doesn’t refuse to answer questions, but the interviewers never know when the gauntlet will be thrown down to them, or when LP, just being subtly spiteful as usual, will perform some trick on them. Knowing that, one can just imagine the gauntlet is always there, and whoever dares to pick it up becomes the adversary in an electric dialogue. Piotr Metz, without shifting an eyebrow, took up the challenge with the very first words of his interview. Looking her straight in the eyes, he said “LP is sexy,” making her visibly puzzled. As fun as the conversation was, the experienced host succeeded in keeping his guest within his limits and didn’t let her subject him to her will. And we have to say, LP looked satisfied.

She started the concert in the usual way, with “Muddy Waters,” building the strain and calling for attention. The arrangement contributed a lot to creating that effect, especially in the first chorus where LP sings in a low key, and JD Carrera on the guitar adds rhythmically one high note. And right after that they pass on to the next part, with its soothing beats full of harmony. That explosive mix of anxiety and soothing sounds goes through all the song. And what finally gets you is the almost whispered bridge, backed by just a very gentle support from JD’s guitar.

“Strange” doesn’t leave anyone uninvolved right from the first notes. Somehow, LP’s operatic singing transfixes every cell of your body. Her singing is always clear, but this time it’s crystal clear. The spot-on understanding between LP and JD here makes you shiver: a split second before the first note of the song, JD says in a very low but steady voice “Go!” and they start together – LP with her powerful, high, penetrating sound, and JD with energetic beats.

It’s worth mentioning how special “Into The Wild” performed at Trójka was. People who witnessed many of LP’s performances at festivals between 2012 and 2014, and that means dozens of times she sang “Into The Wild,” will confirm that, usually, the degree of LP’s emotional immersion in that song wasn’t too big. It was performed, sung, and accompanied by the guitar, of course, in a beautiful and entertaining way, but that was all. At Trójka, it reached us for the first time, and the performance made it possible to realize, on some emotional level, what this song is truly about. Every part of it, together with LP’s facial expressions, showed existential anxiety and questions we ask ourselves – who am I, how am I living in this ever-changing world, am I even happy about things? The climax was the moment she pronounced the second no, it isn’t the way. Wow.

The next song was a real gem – an acoustic version of “Up Against Me.” The studio version strongly contributes to fresh and classy sound of the album and adds a refined twist to it. The acoustic version at Trójka charmed us with its very curious, lively melodic line. And the distinctive echo at the end of the song wasn’t produced by the sound engineer, LP did it herself, just distancing herself from the microphone and modulating the voice. A real masterpiece. Right after that she passed into “Death Valley.” Americana, as a genre, is not something that immediately clicks for the European audience, us included. It’s somehow challenging to connect to it emotionally at times. But the very choice of “Death Valley” for the acoustic set was so unusual that we waited eagerly for every phrase of it.

The most outstanding performance of the evening was “Other People”. LP made good use of the complete silence in the room (a kind of silence which could never be achieved during a club concert) and she embroiled one ornament after another. Every moment when she was singing with a low-key voice, she emphasized the drama of the song, and beautifully exposed her vibrato. Well, “Other People” left many makeups ruined, to the point of it being a challenge to give enough attention to the next song, “Tightrope.” What we loved about the audience was that people shyly followed LP’s finger snapping during the first pre-chorus. During the second one everybody joined in – a truly magical moment. We managed to cool down a bit after “Other People” and get back to normal around the second verse of “Tightrope,” that is until …reach out to me, my dearest, don’t you cry, you don’t know you’re almost near it….

Then “Lost On You” started and that was really something; one of those intimate performances of the song when you can actually feel the meaning of the lyrics. LP played and sang as though the audience had disappeared, as though nothing else existed. A moving and tender performance. She concluded the set with “Forever For Now,” giving us the most sharp and penetrating passage to the operatic part. This was the end, no encore this time. As LP was leaving the stage, the audience gave her a standing ovation.

The setlist included almost all tracks from LP’s new album, Lost On You, leaving out only two: “No Witness” and “You Want It All.” LP performed only one song from her previous album, Forever For Now, with the same title as the album, written in memory of her mother. It’s hard to imagine “No Witness” performed without drums and electric guitar, maybe this is why LP didn’t sing it at Trójka. And “You Want It All” hasn’t been performed live yet, and this is one of those songs which makes sure to take no prisoners… We’d give a lot to hear a concert version of this song – maybe it will happen during LP’s Spring European tour.

It remains a mystery why LP liked the Studio so much when she visited it back in August. In some way she felt that she would be able to fully unveil her talent there. And indeed: vocally, musically, and emotionally, the concert was perfect.

✶ An audio recording of the LP performance at Trójka
(click the red button “play”)