at the Royal Theater
By FILIP DROZDZ | December 11, 2019
Cover photo by carre.nl
FKA Twigs. Star of yesterday evening.
For those who have read my previous article, it should not come as a surprise that I hold FKA Twigs in high regard. Her most recent release, MAGDALENE, pulled my heartstrings with its empowering narration about what womanhood is in the context of a heartbreaking parting.
Having fallen in love with MAGDALENE, I decided to look up if FKA Twigs was going to perform in Amsterdam anytime soon. You can imagine how devastated I was to find out that, indeed, she would come to Amsterdam – in only a few days. I still tried (without much hope) to get a ticket, but in compliance with my expectations, all of them turned out to be sold out. However, being stubborn finally paid off and I managed to get my desired ticket the day before the concert.
Before I move on to a description of the show itself, I would like to ask something: did anyone who also happened to attend this event by chance find a jaw? Please return it to me for I dropped mine; it happened sometime by the end and it probably got lost in the crowd of spectators crawling out of the venue. Much obliged.
To call FKA Twigs’s concert, well, a “concert” would be a criminal understatement (or maybe a huge misunderstanding) as it resembled a play more than anything else. It featured a clear division into acts, scenography and progression of narration. This was enriched by songs from her previous albums and by a roster of distinguishable characters who expressed themselves through dance – including the protagonist played by FKA Twigs herself. Furthermore, the belle of the ball changed her costumes numerous times during the show. Putting aside how impressive that was (considering the complexity of the attires), it also added up to this play-esque impression that her performance left on me.
When it comes to movement, I would actually say that it was the main language she used to communicate with the audience. Of course the concert contained outstanding displays of her vocal chords’ capabilities, but on the other side of the spectrum, some of the songs were merely played back while exuberant choreographies were put in the limelight. It felt a little disheartening when I first noticed this tendency, but the beauty of the show that FKA Twigs and her four complementary dancers managed to put on quickly changed my attitude.
Characters of the events taking place on stage throughout the evening varied between erotically alluring and movingly gentle. The most prominent instance of this constant dissonance was when FKA Twigs first showed off her dancing skills on a pole, just to burst into tears during the performance of cellophane – probably the most personal song of hers – in a matter of seconds. Before she sang it, though, she had asked the audience three questions: how many of you came here alone?; how many of you are single?; and finally, how many of you have had your heart broken? After she playfully stated that she has never seen so many broken hearts in any place before, cellophane followed and I think it’s safe to say that it was a culmination of the whole concert.
This assumption could be further reinforced by the fact that it was one of the last songs performed during this magical evening. Shortly after, it was time for bows and rounds of deafening applause which filled up the interiors of the Royal Theater Carré. This was the moment when I realized one more detail: all of the actors on stage wore costumes which, in one way or another, tried to blur the physical attributes assignable to their specific gender or sexuality. FKA Twigs turned her personal tragedy into an empowering message this way. Her message is that love is something universal and everyone deserves to experience it. It is hard to imagine how she could have chosen another city than Amsterdam to finish a tour which aimed to spread such a conviction.