Dua Lipa’s one-off ‘intimate’ Australian show
in Melbourne’s The Palais Theatre More than 25,000 people signed up for tickets to this St. Kilda show, but the pop star’s departure from her usual environment didn’t provide many benefits.
Dua Lipa is one of the few musical acts whose 2,800-person performance can be described as “intimate.” Even if you don’t know any of Lipa’s songs by name, you’ve probably heard her energetic dancefloor anthems and witty songs about bad lovers many times in the four years since the English pop diva last toured Australia, performing a few sparse headline shows and supporting Bruno Mars.
The Victorian government’s Always Live initiative, which has a proven track record of luring local and international acts to perform in the wake of Covid lockdowns, presented the 27-year-one-off old’s performance on Sunday night in St Kilda’s Palais Theatre. Most notably, it was responsible for bringing Foo Fighters and Nick Cave out of the city and into the outlying areas, among others. More than 25,000 people signed up for the poll to acquire tickets for Lipa’s St. Kilda performance, which was advertised as a chance for 2,800 fans to see the artist “up close and personal” before a string of stadium shows throughout Australia. What did that mean, though? Would the king or queen of flirtatious disco start playing guitar?
In Lipa’s world, “intimate” merely refers to the length of the bathroom line; this scaled-down performance nonetheless featured choreographed dance routines, shimmering disco balls, and confetti cannons. Lipa is one of the few pop stars whose voice is even more remarkable in person. She had a Cher-like quality about her, stalking the stage like a large cat while wearing a corset and tossing her hair around while delivering her self-assured lines with a wink.
A group of 10 lean dancers sashayed around the neon-lit stage as Lipa seamlessly transitioned from uplifting tune to upbeat smash. Some awkward choreography was performed, such as when Lipa and her dancers performed Ring Around the Rosie, and Elton John’s face unexpectedly appeared on the backdrop, looming on like Mufasa in the sky, to perform the chorus of their song Cold Heart. These minor moments of silliness may have been better concealed in the razzle-dazzle of a stadium show.
The show in some ways felt like a squandered opportunity, despite the fact that being in the audience was quite fun. For starters, why wasn’t this performance scheduled in the outlying areas, where Always Live has such a successful history of booking international acts? Next week, Lipa will play two more gigs in Melbourne, this time at Rod Laver Arena, a venue located less than 10 kilometres from the Palais.
Furthermore, there was no benefit to scheduling a dancefloor act at a location where it is well known that there is no standing room for dancing. Anyone who was dying to move was forced to bounce in front of their small seat, disregarding Lipa’s orders for everyone to jump in time, as Palais staff are notoriously vigilant about any dancing leaking into the aisles. I yearned to see her elsewhere, in a large stadium where she would be at ease. However, regardless of available space, everyone was dancing in the Palais. How could you resist such an appealing act?