Review: LP, at the Olympia

LP album Heart To Mouth. Credit: BMG.

LP really should be a household name, says Ellie O'Byrne, after witnessing the American musician's incredible gig at the Olympia

A pair of American tourists walking up Dame Street on Tuesday evening, negotiating the throng around The Olympia Theatre, took a glance at the billing: “I wonder who’s on? Oh. LP. Whoever that is.”

Cue eye-rolling from a group of Polish women waiting to go into the gig: how could anyone not know who LP is?

The singer-songwriter, born Laura Pergolizzi, is a star in countries like Poland, Greece and Turkey, and far less well-known in her native US, although almost everyone will have heard her work without realising it: the diminutive, tousle-headed chanteuse spent a decade writing pop hits for performers including Rihanna, Christina Aguilera and Cher before a break-out 2016 hit catapulted her into the well-deserved spotlight.

Because that’s where she belongs.

LP’s Olympia gig was a dazzling night in the hands of a performer at the top of her game. From the second she walked onto the stage and launched into Dreamcatcher, from her latest album, Heart to Mouth, she seemed in celebratory form.

Her spectacular vocal virtuosity, covering everything from a low, Dylanesque snarl to an unearthly operatic vibrato, is even more breath-taking live than recorded, and songs that seem like catchy pop tunes in recorded form, like When I’m Over You, developed greater depths with a gritty rock makeover by her four-piece backing band.

From a vocal duel with her guitarist and hair-alike Alex Feder, to hamming up the distinctive whistling that features in many of her songs, to jumping on the drum riser to play cymbals with her tambourine, LP owned the stage, with a confidence, ease and presence that would make you wonder about an industry that left her in the shadows for so long.

The well-crafted set list saw a couple of welcome lulls, including a gentle rendition of Recovery with just keys, and enough human moments to cut through the slickness of the production: sound issues for the guitar during Muddy Waters, and LP’s fumble while twirling her mic that left it on the ground and her, laughing, rushing to retrieve it in time for her next line.

The encore’s trio of songs from her previous album concluded, of course, with Lost On You, the song that catapulted Pergolizzi to European chart success, which has now generated a billion streams globally. It brought the house down.

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