Lights + K.Flay @ O2 Academy 3, 30th January 2015


I arrived early at a sold out O2 Academy 3 to find it already full of people. The Canadian synth pop artist, Lights, is in Birmingham tonight to promote her latest album, Little Machines with support from K.Flay. With an electric atmosphere filling the room, I became suspicious as to why everyone had arrived so early and in such good spirits. Perhaps everyone in the room is part of a flash mob? Perhaps all these people are actually part of the band and are going to provide vocal harmonies? Or perhaps I’m over-thinking everything and these innocent onlookers just wanted to support Lights, and her chosen support act.

K.Flay is an artist I am not familiar with, however, as first impressions go, she certainly makes a good one. Her odd combination of bass driven synth, live drums and rapping makes for a captivating performance. Her catchy hooks allow for the audience to make a connection with her music whilst her impressive rapping ability shows versatility that only a few female artists are brave enough to show. Four tracks in and my fear of every track sounding the same is proved wrong by Thicker Than Dust that goes out to everyone in the room for being her new friends. With a sound similar to FKA Twigs the Californian lass appears to appreciate that she may not appeal to the entire room and so is not requesting participation on the crowds’ behalf. Instead she is playing the songs and ensuring the two piece, consisting of her drummer and her have a good time doing it.  As her set draws to a close she thanks the audience for turning up early and hanging out with her. An appreciative artist and an open minded crowd make for a good set.

As the lights do down, Lights makes her way up onto the stage followed by her band of three and opens with the mellow, Muscle Memory. The stunned crowd are not sure how to react to a slow first song but this is quickly remedied with tracks two and three, Toes and How We Do It which give a cheery vibe to the lifeless crowd. Finally, after several upbeat, poppy and infectiously catchy tracks the onlookers appear to kick into life by singing the Siberia melody back at the energetic Canadian and her band, who deserve an honourable mention for their impeccable playing and excellent backing vocals. Track six arrives and Lights appears to have picked up on the dull crowd she is playing to and tells them, “don’t be afraid to be a little more excited.” She then follows this with a joke about Marks and Spencer, which receives a hearty laugh, confirming that they are at least awake. The Last Thing On Your Mind boasts Lights’ impressive vocal ability and versatility that really comes through in a live setting.

Mid way through the set a short break is taken by the band to discuss Birmingham, changes and FIFA 11. Things are kicked back off with a soft piano track, Cactus In The Valley, performed solely by Lights, providing a lull in proceedings which did nothing for the already lacklustre crowd, but sounded very good. Banner saw the most upbeat song as of yet and even prompted some unprompted arm waving that the singer fed off causing some fan interaction with the front row. Ensuring she savoured every bit of energy that the crowd gave off, Lights encouraged “awkward dancing” and surprisingly, it followed. Appearing to have finally woken the room from its slumber track fifteen, Same Sea saw the room bouncing in time with the Lights and co. – at least they’d woke up for the encore I suppose. Taking to the stage once more for an encore consisting of crowd pleaser, Up We Go and the more chilled out Oil and Water, the Canadian quartet end on a high note.

Whether the mellow brand of synth pop that Lights produces is not well received in any live environment or whether this crowd just didn’t want to know, there is no doubt that she is good at what she does. From a performance perspective this was by no means a bad show, but the lack of atmosphere created made for, what I felt was, a subdued performance from an otherwise extravagant and talented artist, who deserves a much better crowd reaction.

Set List:


Muscle Memory


How We Do It

My Boots


Running With the Boys

The Last Thing On Your Mind


Cactus in the Valley

(Solo with Brody)


Where The Fence Is Low


Flux and Flow

Timing Is Everything

Same Sea



Up We Go

Oil and Water


Review: Dan Wilson

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