Swedish dance-pop star Tove Lo serves up hedonistic heaven (with an obligatory topless moment)
“My parents are here!” Tove Lo informed a party-hungry crowd at her London show on Saturday night. You might wonder how it feels to sing openly about sex, twerk in a phallus-decorated gladiatorial leotard and flash your breasts, all in front of your parents – but on Camden’s Roundhouse stage, that’s exactly what the Swedish popstar proceeded to do.
Along with Robyn, Zara Larsson, and MØ, Lo was part of the mid-2010s Scandi bubble, but her persona bleeds across the lines of her precise, functional Scandi-pop. Her sexual candour provokes polite society and stirs her audience into a frenzy on songs about lovers, drugs, and heartbreak. Though she’s written with Coldplay, Ellie Goulding, Dua Lipa, Lorde, and Duran Duran, she remains far less reined in than her mainstream peers.
Dirt Femme, Lo’s fifth album but first as an independent artist after leaving Island Records, maintains her output of reliably melodic, occasionally languid dance pop. These new songs formed much of Saturday night’s setlist, from raunchy opener Pineapple Slice to 2 Die 4 – featuring the familiar plink of Gershon Kingsley’s 1969 Moog synthesiser instrumental Popcorn, first released by Hot Butter in 1972 and resurfacing throughout the decades – and the glacial True Romance.
She cavorted across the stage to older hits, too. Swapping the leotard for sequinned mesh and bare feet, Lo gave the now-customary flash of her breasts during Talking Body, disparaged her ex-lover’s new partner on Really don’t like u – her 2019 single with Kylie Minogue – and turned the venue into a nightclub for fan favourite, her 2017 hit disco tits.
Rainbow lights swept across a largely queer, shimmying crowd, as the night ascended towards an encore of her 2013 breakthrough Habits – a shot of heartbroken euphoria – and the Italo-disco throb of a newer track, No One Dies from Love. Presided over by a live band clad in white on a cloud-adorned stage, this was music for pleasure-seekers: a hedonistic heaven.
Now 35 and married, Lo continues to be a notoriously fun showman, hellbent on partying with the self-assurance that comes with age. After Grapefruit, a track about her past battle with an eating disorder, she noted that “it’s funny to have hated my body so much in my youth and now I’m standing in front of you half-naked”. Lo is as sexually liberated as they come, but she is also one of a few contemporary popstars (alongside Rina Sawayama, Caroline Polachek and Lizzo) peaking in their thirties – and perhaps that’s the real freedom.
No further UK dates, touring abroad until March 2023; tove-lo.com/tour