It seems like most of today’s pop stars can’t let their music speak for itself when it comes to their live shows. They supplement their performances with elaborate sets, bizarre costumes and hit-or-miss gimmicks (ex: Nicki Minaj’s on-stage exorcism at the Grammy’s).
LIGHTS doesn’t need any cheap theatrics to put on a show. Her stage at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pa., during her Siberia Tour contained only the bare minimum an artist needs to put on a concert with only a few extra belles and whistles. She had a backup band, a synthesizer for her to play with, some fancy lighting and smoke effects, and that booming voice I would never expect to come out of such a tiny person.
The 25-year-old Canadian poptart formerly known as Valerie Poxleitner (she legally changed her name to Lights) has an uncanny ability to turn what would usually be indie songs into electro-pop dance tracks that don’t lose anything in translation. She uses Auto-Tune, but doesn’t need it. LIGHTS is an enigma of the pop world, yet just about all of her weird choices tend to work.
I have to admit, I was worried that her style might not be suited for live shows. I was especially cautious after what can only be described as the worst opening act in the history of opening acts. Some guy who called himself “Nah” slammed on a drum set while a bass pounded and my eyes were assaulted with flashing lights for half an hour. As the friend I went to the concert with said: “There aren’t many times I wish I didn’t have ears. This was one of them.”
All of my fears disappeared the second she stepped out on stage, clad in a white LAX pinny, and started belting out the anthem “Banner.” Best part: a couple guys close to the stage held up a Canadian flag.
Seeing certain songs live sold them to me better than any mp3 ever could. She has an edge in her voice that is lost on recordings, not to mention the light show that made me feel like I was at a rave (but in a good way).
I never appreciated the dubstep-inspired “Flux and Flow” before I heard her belt that chorus live. Same with the sweet “Cactus In The Valley,” which she sang with nothing but an acoustic guitar and some participation from the audience (an enthusiastic bunch who weren’t afraid to sing along).
I was really happy that my favorite LIGHTS song, the playful yet powerful “Ice,” sounded just as cool (get it?) live. Same with “Toes,” which I always thought was a little too tame – definitely not the case live. She even showed off her keyboard schools on “Quiet,” the closest thing to a love song in her repertoire.
Besides putting on an amazing show, LIGHTS seems refreshingly genuine. She just looks so happy on stage. The woman has a smile that could launch a thousand ships, and I like that she’s constantly wearing it. LIGHTS may have spent most of the show at a stationary microphone messing with her synthesizer, but her energy and pure talent made for a rocking evening.
Photo Courtesy: Josh Axelrod
Photo Courtesy: Josh Axelrod
Main Photo Courtesy: Josh Axelrod
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