Lizzo live in London: a Glastonbury headline slot-worthy spectacle

“London, will you be my bestie tonight?” Lizzo asks midway through her second sold-out show at The O2, the capital’s premier arena. It’s the final night in Europe for her accurately-titled ‘The Special Tour’ and that question is essentially rhetorical. Later this summer, she’ll take a headline slot at Glastonbury, sharing top-billing on the Saturday night with Guns N’ Roses; tonight’s show (March 16) shows that she’d have been more than capable to take top billing solo.

Lizzo has the 20,000-capacity crowd rapt as soon as she arrived on stage through a trap door in a sparkling blue catsuit. Backed by an all-female band, a trio of female backing singers and a 10-strong dance troupe sourced from her Emmy-winning reality show Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, she knows how to put on a show. There’s a lot of twerking, obviously, but also snappy choreography to the Pointers Sisters-style pop of ‘2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)’ and Lizzo reclining on a psychiatrist’s couch during a section she calls “therapy”. The on-screen graphics are hardly the focal point here, but when they do catch your eye, they’re pretty witty. An animated subway train is called the “Bitch Say Less Express” – a nod to a lyric from her glistening disco bop ‘Everybody’s Gay’.

Lizzo’s energy is infectious whether she’s showing off her vocal chops on the soulful ballad ‘Cuz I Love You’, playing the flute on her big hits ‘Truth Hurts’ and ‘Juice’, or turning ‘I Love You Bitch’ into an arena rock stomper. Her setlist draws heavily from ‘Special’, last year’s well received fourth album, but Lizzo also cherry-picks from 2019’s career-making third LP ‘Cuz I Love You’ and includes a few earlier tunes like the genuinely funny ‘Phone’. An earnest cover of Chaka Khan‘s ‘I’m Every Woman’ slots in nicely because along with body-positivity and self-love, female solidarity is a key tenet of the Lizzo manifesto.

Throughout, she displays a peerless ability to connect with a crowd – even when she attempts a less than convincing British accent. At one point, Lizzo tells us that earlier in the day she “slathered some motherfucking cream on a motherfucking scone” at her first London high tea, earning a huge laugh. In the closing stretch, she pauses to pick out fans from every section of the venue: from a woman at the top wearing a feather boa to guys at the side in pink cowboy hats. She wells up several times when her enormous warmth is reflected back at her by fans. By the time she ends with a triumphant ‘About Damn Time’ – accompanied by a giant disco ball – it’s clear her job here is done. Lizzo isn’t just a great entertainer, but pop’s foremost purveyor of unadulterated joy.

Lizzo played:

‘The Sign’
‘2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)’
‘Phone’ / ‘Grrrls’
‘Scuse Me’
‘Break Up Twice’
‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’
‘I’m Every Woman’
‘Like A Girl’
‘Birthday Girl’ / ‘Happy Birthday To You’
‘Everybody’s Gay’
‘Water Me’
‘Cuz I Love You’
‘If You Love Me’
‘Truth Hurts’
‘I Love You Bitch’
‘Good As Hell’
‘About Damn Time’



Date Published

March 20, 2023


Nick Levine