“Some nights you don’t wanna wake up from, like tonight. It’s like a dream,” said Lykke Li on Sunday during her concert at First Avenue before beginning to sing “Just Like A Dream,” a song from her latest album I Never Learn. The 2014 album reveals a sadder, darker side of Li, as most of it was written after a difficult break-up and a move to L.A. from Sweden in 2012.
The Swedish indie-pop singer-songwriter performed in the Mainroom at First Avenue on Sunday night. Opening for her was soul-pop artist Mapei, who is a natural pairing with Li for a concert. Both perform distinctly different styles of laid-back, earthy pop, bringing something new to music that will hopefully have people thinking of them in addition to – or instead of – ABBA when someone mentions “Swedish music.”
Mapei energized the audience with “Don’t Wait,” her well-known single from 2013 and arguably the brightest diamond in the crown that is her performing career to date. The general mood of her set was captured by a sense of newer, mature love, while sticking to the idea of maintaining one’s autonomy. Her lyrics, “If it wasn’t for you, I’d be alone/You won my heart, without a question/When I shine, you shine,” set the stage for Li’s contrasting tone perfectly.
The overall theme of Li’s set was focused on moving on from a major heartbreak. It contained songs predominantly from I Never Learn, but also featured some of her older hits from Wounded Rhymes 2011 and Youth Novels 2008, including “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “Get Some” and “I Follow Rivers.”
Throughout her performance, Li’s physical stage presence was quietly unapologetic. She was dressed in black and surrounded by her five band members on a relatively small stage arrangement for First Avenue especially compared to a Tickle Torture show, where Elliott Kozel and his scantily clad dancers strolled and gyrated across the Mainroom stage and lounge on a large couch, drinking bottles of champagne.
The audience was very responsive to her performance, singing along to the chorus of “Dance, Dance, Dance” and raising lighters and cell phones in solidarity during “Never Gonna Love Again.”
“She is a goddess among mortals,” said Melissa Nyberg ’18 of the concert. “Her somber and yet still upbeat songs were as stylish as the black pleather kimono she wore on her tiny Swedish frame,”
Li played a beautiful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” and ended hopefully with “Get Some,” a playful song off of Wounded Rhymes. She and her five band members returned to stage to perform a two-song encore consisting of a Swedish love song because the Minneapolis audience was her “best yet”, followed by “Heart Of Steel.” The band concluded with a walk off stage to the Beatles’ “Don’t Get Me Down.”
Lykke Li put on a beautiful performance that would break your heart and put it back together again. She acknowledged that we all experience heartbreak, but it’s a fact of life and we will continue to move on.
Go see her perform if she is in a city near you and check out her music videos. Lykke Li’s music has been and will always be innovative and captivating.