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Going into 2020 nobody could have predicted a year of bushfires, pandemics, and a US election more vicious than any other in recent memory. Music, however, was able to shine through the darkness. From the cheery dance-pop of Chromatica to the genre-bending glory of Sawayama, music gave us all an escape from the dreary monotony of daily life in lockdown. But for an industry so reliant on touring, a global pandemic throws somewhat of a spanner in the works. How do you hold large-scale, live events when nobody can leave their home? Well, Dua Lipa has the answer with Studio 2054, a live-streamed concert for the year live music ground to a halt.
In a word, Studio 2054 was fun. Pure, unadulterated, disco-infused, fun. It isn’t like any other online concert I’ve seen before, with the team behind it ripping up the rule book to put on one of the most creatively produced live performances ever. From the Top of the Pops-esque staging used for the album’s title track, Future Nostalgia, to Physical’s neon-drenched roller disco, complete with The Blessed Madonna in the DJ booth, everything onset has been expertly designed to perfectly embody the 80s influences that course through the veins of the album that the event supports. The costumes, the lighting, the lens flare, they all exude that disco energy by the boatload to make for one hell of a viewing experience.
But staging isn’t everything, and it would be all for naught if the vocals themselves weren’t up to scratch. Thankfully, this is Dua Lipa we’re talking about and she does not disappoint. No shaky or missed notes in a 70-minute-long set is no mean feat, especially when you’re running around a warehouse performing choreography, but should we really have expected anything less from the six-time Grammy-nominated star? It wasn’t a one-woman show either with stellar performances from stars such as FKA Twigs, Angèle, and the Princess of Pop herself Kylie Minogue, as they joined Lipa throughout the show. The only part that somewhat stuck out like a sore thumb was Elton John’s performance of Rocket Man. Instead of performing live in person, John was projected on a wall and ended up being cut off during the songs first chorus leaving it feeling like a slightly random inclusion to an otherwise glorious show.
The most disappointing part of Studio 2054 is the fact that in a few months, re-watching this masterpiece legally becomes impossible once it expires on streaming service LIVENow. I’ve no doubt the complex intricacies of music rights management are to blame, but it’s frustrating that we won’t be able to see it in all its glory in years to come. Not content with just breathing new life into pop music, Lipa and her team have raised the bar for digital events higher than it’s ever been before and I for one cannot wait to see what they do next.