Review: British Pop Star Dua Lipa at the Moda Center
My Dua Lipa plus-one, a PDX rave queen, glitter connoisseur, major Dua stan, and obvious choice to accompany me to the Moda Center for the Portland stop of the Future Nostalgia tour (apologies to my boyfriend, who suddenly decided he was a huge Dua Lipa fan after I landed on the media list), said it best: “Wow, I thought Dua was for the girls, the gays, and the theys ... apparently, she’s for everyone.”
If there was an expected demographic for this show, it certainly wasn’t obvious. While 20-something girlies decked out in funky two-piece sets drinking overpriced stadium cocktails and teens rocking pink cowgirl hats with matching pink Dua totes were definitely in the majority, everyone and their mother—literally, we spotted tons of mother-daughter duos, none of the mothers chaperoning begrudgingly—showed out for Dua Lipa’s Moda Center debut. And fathers were there, too, including a group of men in custom-printed “Dads for Dua” shirts. A 50-year-old man seated behind us, whom I wrongly assumed was just there with his wife, was by the end of the night screaming for an encore much louder than anyone else nearby.
It’s been way too long since I’ve been to a big-name concert (thank you pandemic), and I think I’d forgotten just how much of a production one can be. With five different sets, at least four wardrobe changes (each a million times better than the last—I was not a huge fan of the first all-yellow, skin-tight jumpsuit look, but quite literally screamed when the British superstar changed into a glittery unitard with shoes to match), dancers on roller-skates, a belted bit of “Rocket Man” whilst the singer was draped in a pride flag, and a huge animatronic lobster for some reason(?), this show was something else.
The night began a bit later than anticipated thanks to opener Caroline Polacheck—the former Chairlift singer with a sturdy art-pop solo career of her own—having broken her foot, and thus breaking our hearts. (JK, I very much hope she has a speedy recovery.) The originally second, but ultimately only, opening act, Lolo Zouaï, started out with some spacey music and Y2K graphics that looked like a design you’d see on a baby doll tee, but people really got into her set around song no. 3, “Desert Rose,” when she was able to better showcase her really incredible voice. And after some tunes from Purple Disco Machine, a cup of dragonfruit cider, and some unexpectedly incredible Moda Center chicken tenders and fries, the lights went out and Dua Lipa began.
Lipa’s set was cinematic from beginning to end. The show began with opening credits that sleekly introduced each dancer on her team by name, as they performed a signature move. Lipa opened with “Physical,” an ’80s-themed pop song with Olivia Newton John roots, cementing the nostalgia of the show, especially when paired with throwback tracks like “Hollaback Girl” that played between sets.
She followed up with “New Rules,” and sprinkled in her other hits like “One Kiss,” “Levitating,” etc., which all sounded better live than in their constantly on-the-radio counterparts. During “Levitating,” Lipa was quite literally levitating as she performed from a floating stage with trippy, on-screen space graphics behind her (and dangling stars and planets for good measure). Some of my favorites, however, were ones I’d somehow never heard before, like “Boys Will Be Boys,” which cheesily almost made me tear up (especially thinking about how many young women were in the audience), and “Good in Bed,” which was fun and dancey and made me feel powerful for reasons unknown.
Future Nostalgia, both the name of Lipa’s 2020 album and this long-delayed tour, serves as a fitting descriptor for the vibe of the evening. A show packed with around 12,000 people and very few masks in sight made me simultaneously nostalgic for the prepandemic era, while also providing a glimpse into the future of a postpandemic world.