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Thursday, September 28, 2023
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Pencil sharpener turned retro icon: the ‘Future Nostalgia Tour’

The long-awaited concert gave fans everything a space voyager would have wanted

<p>Dua Lipa poses while performing in front of backup singers Saturday at KeyBank Center.&nbsp;</p>

Dua Lipa poses while performing in front of backup singers Saturday at KeyBank Center. 

Neon disco lights erupted into a glittery explosion of electric body form costumes, and fitness instructors morphed into rollerbladers and catwalk extraordinaires at three-time Grammy award-winning artist Dua Lipa’s concert at KeyBank Center Saturday night. 

The 15th-leg of Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia Tour” gave Buffalonians the singer’s best 1970s discotheque impression — transforming the concert experience with an intimacy that felt like concertgoers and their friends went clubbing with Dua Lipa by themselves.

Two years after her originally-scheduled Buffalo concert was canceled because of COVID-19,  Dua finally hit the road to promote her 2020 “Future Nostalgia” album, and made sure to rectify past dancing faux pas along the way. 

The “Future Nostalgia Tour” started off on a high-note in the Queen City with supporting act Lolo Zouai, who spent the night sharing in her birthday celebrations with the fans. The French native wowed with makeshift camcorder urban flicks that matched her melodic tone. 

Her French-English lyrics melted into each other to create a captivating lullabye-esque atmosphere with dim pink lighting — epitomized through her bestseller “Desert Rose.” 

The artist came equipped with new material too, debuting her November 2021 single “Scooter” on the main stage. She transformed her chill lulls into an energized bass as the sparsely attended crowd finally matched her bounce toward the end of the set.

Caroline Polachek’s set swiftly followed as listeners entered into her microcosm of surreality.

The singer’s vocals missed the mark with little audience reciprocity for her gothic sensuality and haunting warbles in songs like “Billions,” as her lyrics turned into slurs that sounded like another language. 

But Polachek still pulled it back through more rock-oriented and upbeat songs like “Bunny Is A Rider,” and her global smash “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings,” which showcased her true ingenuity and the talent that belays it.

Dua, however, flipped the switch in audience reactions from the moment she stepped on the stage.

Dua introduced herself and her ensemble through promotional fitness class graphics that saw each member’s name cast in neon lights coupled with fuzzy headbands and luminous spandex — a perfect segway to usher in her opener: “Physical.”

Throughout her performance, Dua’s vocals stayed pitch-perfect, as though the audience were in the physical recording studio with her and her polished tracks. 

Even better, the staging consistently met the tone of each song and number she presented her adoring fans with. 

Dua provided a somber rendition of “Boys Will Be Boys,” which hardened into a vibrant samba beat breakdown with flecks of breakdance battles and Gwen Stefani’s sampled floor-filler “Hollaback Girl.” This all happened beneath a lowered platform filled with strobe lights and reflective surfaces, just for good measure.

“Cool” saw the singer eclipsed by a giant glitzy disco-ball visual as two of her talented dancers got on their skates and kicked off the roller rink wonderland portion of the tour. 

Circling Dua with pirouettes and a fluidity that was second-to-none, the dancers did this all while suspended from electric coloured wheels. This roller theme continued on periodically through the night — mimicking the feel-good “Levitating” music video. 

The artist’s songs softened into each other with an impressive craftsmanship, as a high-energy azure-filled medley of Dua’s breakthrough songs “IDGAF” and “Be the One” preceded the audience being subtly submerged underwater with a comic strip battle turned on-stage lobster. 

With numerous feature tracks on her album, the Studio 54-esque atmosphere could’ve easily gotten a little clunky. But Dua pulled through with live visuals of pop sensations Angèle and Elton John featured on “Fever” and chart-topper “Cold Heart.” 

Dua gave the crowd mellowed imagery of wispy clouds, followed by genuinely beautiful moments as she and her ensemble sat down on the stage with a pride flag and shared impromptu hugs and smiles.   

But not all the artists featured on the album were included.

The TikTok sensation “Levitating,” featuring Dua and DaBaby was cut (likely due to recent controversies surrounding the rapper), leaving listeners with the original solo version Dua released. 

Despite missing another voice, the track was a highlight of the night as the artist literally levitated across the stage and over the crowd, illuminated by dangling stars and planets in orbit — reminiscent of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road.

Her encore was as upbeat as ever with purple and green neon lights enveloping the walls and floors, as she finally graced the audience with the galactic track that inspired the entire album and tour aesthetic: “Future Nostalgia.”

The final song of the night, single “Don’t Start Now,” shook the entire venue with confetti cannons and elated fans shouting the lyrics from start to end, amid a wave of sky-high arms and feet in mid-jump.   

It featured a deliberate dance break, watering the chorus down to just the funk-filled bass and a glimmering sheer black bodysuit, to put her 2018 “One Kiss” pencil sharpener meme to rights.

Other awkward moments did seep through the disco-filled cracks that Dua tirelessly crafted throughout the night. 

From little audience interaction to lackluster transitions the visual aesthetics were meant to make up for.

But these moments were few and far between.

Ultimately, the concert was an absolute joy for all and Dua certainly delivered on everything that “Future Nostalgia’” set out to be — to resurrect carefree music.

Dua lit up KeyBank Center with hair-flips and retro beats that made listeners grip their chest in unthinking lyrical ecstasy. 

The only question is, how can the singing sensation level up from here?

Sophie McNally is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at

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Sophie McNally is an assistant sports editor at The Spectrum. She is a history major studying abroad for a year from Newcastle University in the UK. In her spare time, she can be found blasting The 1975 or Taylor Swift and rowing on a random river at 5 a.m.  



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