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Lykke Li at Amoeba on Monday March 7th, 2011

Why am I always the last one to discover that someone may attract a few thousand people on a weeknight at Amoeba? Lykke Li’s fame is much more considerable than I had expected, as the very long line outside the store was revealing on Monday night. And there were the obligatory mysterious guest list that would have given me access to the front, the Amoeba employee telling me, using a sorry tone, it was a crazy in-store this time, and the security guard yelling at me I could not stay where I was…

The Swedish star Lykke Li, I think she deserves this denomination considering the amount of security, took the stage with her musicians, wearing her blonde mane, and a black leather jacket over a pair of black panty hose.
She appeared upbeat and talkative despite what I had heard from her dark lyrics all about pain and suffering… Oh no, she is not another one of these miserabilists? May be, but she is celebrating her wounds with glory and pure exuberance, luminous chorus over joyous chords when singing ‘Sadness is a blessing/Sadness is a pearl/Sadness is my boyfriend/Oh, sadness I’m your girl’ in ‘Sadness is a blessing’, a song she performed with panache and a certain idea of the 60s.

She may be wounded but the violent and wild drumbeats that thump most of her tunes, sound almost viscerally tribal, translating a boldness echoing her lyrics: ‘Like a shotgun needs an outcome/I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some’ she sings in the aggressively sexy and voyeuristic ‘Get some’, a thunderstorm-jungle-fever number.

On Monday night, she performed of course many of her songs from her new album ‘Wounded rhymes’, only interrupting her repertoire a few minutes to start a cappella version of The Mamas and the Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’.

On stage, she was all fierceness, getting behind the big drums in the middle of her singing, a feisty female declaring ‘Youth knows no pain’, in a song flirting with the grandiose and the fantasy, an enchanting creature in the earthly ‘I follow rivers’ and its weird percussion arrangements resonating behind her nasal and powerful vocals, which were going from plaintive to victorious in the same song.

She not only was able to draw a large crowd but to captive it by her intense presence,… she announced ‘I know places’ as ‘a sad song’ and closed her set with the seemingly 50s-60s-doo-wop-inspired ‘Unrequited love’, all centered around the power of her voice, with that emotion-sucking-line ‘Once again it’s happening/All this love is unrequited/twice the pain, the suffering’.
But it was the only moment the woman was standing fragile and vulnerable, because most of the time she was an angry and fearless stage temptress.

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