Lykke Li Dazzles SummerStage

August 2nd, 2011

Lykke Li – SummerStage – August 1, 2011

The smoke machines at SummerStage in Central Park worked overtime last night, creating a sense of intrigue before Lykke Li’s sold-out show. As she emerged through the haze, draped dramatically in a dark veil, Li blended right in with the flowing swatches of dark fabric that sheathed the stage. But shortly after her band began the first few bars of the atmospheric “Jerome,” from Li’s new album, Wounded Ryhmes, off came the veil, on went the strobes and Li began singing with full force.

The Swedish singer-songwriter performed much of the new album’s material, including “I Follow Rivers,” “Youth Knows No Pain” and “Sadness Is a Blessing,” alongside songs off her debut record, Youth Novels, including a captivating version of “Dance, Dance, Dance,” showcasing the impressive skills of Li’s drummer. Li is perhaps often associated with club-ready anthems like the contagious “Little Bit” (which was a huge crowd pleaser last night), but the set also served as a reminder of the singer’s wide range of songs and sounds, including sad and soulful on the piano ballad “Possibility,” to spare, simple and folksy on “I Know Places,” on which Li also played autoharp.

The diversity in her music was matched by Li’s expressive dance moves, singular, genre-spanning gyrations—a mix of mystical Stevie Nicks twirls and Madonna-style voguing with a touch of sleek ’60s girl group, all occasionally punctuated by Li aggressively beating on a cymbal. Although she sang and spun with the assurance of a seasoned pro, toward the end of the show Li blurted out, “I think I’m gonna die. I’m so nervous!” The confession was a tiny peak at the artist underneath the dance moves, whose driving bass and syncopated drums often belie the melancholy lyrics of her songs. After a dazzling show, at the end of the night, Li managed to remain shrouded in a bit of mystery as she disappeared back into the smoke. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Lauren Glucksman |