Rina Sawayama ends her European tour in Oslo
A versatile artist who turned Rockefeller into "Hell" for a night
Photo: Anne-Marie Forker
Japanese-British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama ended her European “Hold the Girl” tour with a concert that felt like a party at Rockefeller in Oslo last night.
Musically versatile, the setlist contained not only pop, but also some nu-metal, dance, trance and a little country. Sawayama kicked off proceedings with the title track from her latest album, “Hold the Girl” and the crowd immediately erupted, chanting her name and dancing along with her. Later, the gig took a darker, heavier turn with “Imagining”, “Frankenstein” and “Your Age”. Sawayama shouts “There's some fucked up shit in the world right now … let me hear the rage! Let's go!” Then the red lights fill the Rockefeller and she starts flipping her hair to the nu-metal, avant-pop "STFU!" ("shut the fuck up").
Accompanied by an excellent drummer and guitarist, Sawayama ensured that they shared some of the spotlight, with a fierce drum solo at end of “Frankenstein”. She sat down, side by side with the guitarist at the front of the stage for a softer section of the set, where she said it was “time to get in touch with your heart”, telling the audience that her favourite place in the world was her “therapist's office” and that she “reparented” herself. “You have got to hold the little Rina, you have got to hold the girl. That's what it’s all about.” Then she sang the ballad “Send My Love to John”, while the crowd turned all their phone lights on, lighting up the venue. People seemed genuinely moved, and they were hugging each other. Someone shouted "We love you!" and Sawayama replied "Love ya" back.
Then it was time to dance again, and she asked if anyone was from the LGBT community and launched into “Cherry”, where she waved the pride flag around on stage. Rockefeller transformed into a club for “Commes Des Garçons”, a homage to early 2000s dance tracks, and “XS”, after which she simply declared "Bye!" before leaving the stage. The adoring crowd chanted and repeatedly screamed her name.
When Sawayama returned for the encore “This Hell”, wearing a sparkly cowboy hat, she said: “In this cold arse country, this is the hottest place, cause we are in Hell!” Half way through the song, the audience started singing the lyrics by themselves, without encouragement. "Oslo I didn't tell you to sing that bit yet!", then she created a singing competition between two sides of the crowd, splitting them down the middle. "This is the last show so you better be fucking loud … Miss Emily is going to do a juicy guitar solo!” Rarely have I seen an artist so in control of her audience, and it is easy to imagine that one day, Rina Sawayama might be playing Oslo Spektrum.