Get ready, Glasto – because mighty Lizzo’s the bizzo
dmg media (UK)
When Taylor Swift pulled out of this year’s Glastonbury, Emily Eavis signed up Guns N’ Roses as the Saturday headliner and announced that Lizzo would support them on the Pyramid Stage. If only Lizzo’s arena tour had come a month earlier, Eavis might have decided that she didn’t need Guns N’ Roses after all. At a stroke, the line-up would have been more diverse – and more exciting. Lizzo doesn’t just light up the O2, she makes it feel like a festival. London crowds traditionally take some warming up, but one glimpse of Melissa Jefferson is enough to get this party started. She is an exemplary hostess: funny, endearing, making everyone feel at home. A youthful 34, Lizzo comes on wearing a nude catsuit and a few strategic strips of tinsel. She has turned her silhouette into a superpower. Her ten dancers, all graduates of her reality series Watch Out For The Big Grrrls, spend the night twerking their socks off. Her music is mostly amiable disco, with a handful of bangers. Only the ballads make full use of her mighty voice, and her flute too is rather under-used. The show is all about her personality: she’s larger than life and living it large. You can see her touching every section of the crowd – the teenage girls, the gay men, the young couples and the small children. Overwhelmed by the response, Lizzo bursts into tears. ‘This is my favourite experience,’ she says, ‘of my whole life.’ She finishes euphorically with Juice and About Damn Time. If Guns N’ Roses see this, they may well ask to come on before her. There are some bands who feel, to their fans, like part of the family. The faithful who fell for Depeche Mode 40 years ago, when they were callow youths in clunky outfits, watched proudly as they evolved into proper rock stars, felt for them when Dave Gahan descended into heroin hell, cheered as he recovered, and glowed as they turned into elder statesmen. Now there’s been a death in the family. Andy Fletcher, a fan favourite, died suddenly last May from an aortic dissection, aged 60. A modest man, he said of Depeche Mode in 1989, when Alan Wilder was still on board: ‘Martin [Gore]’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the singer, and I bum around.’ Fletch played the odd instrument but mainly acted as Depeche’s business manager, spokesman and peacemaker – the glue in the gang. Without him, a group who were a quartet for their first 15 years and a trio for the next 27 are now a duo. That can be the beginning of the end, but electro-pop has always been conducive to duos, from Eurythmics to the Pet Shop Boys. Depeche still have their singer and songwriter, and while you wish Gore and Gahan didn’t have to go through this grief, mourning becomes them. They like wearing black and their music is often gloomy, in a good way. Memento Mori, their 15th studio album, originally dealt with the pandemic, the sharpest reminder of mortality most of us have known. Then Fletch died and the album acquired an unwritten subtitle: Funeral For A Friend. Most of the songs are elegant elegies. ‘Everything seems hollow,’ Gahan sings, ‘when you watch another angel die.’ As at all the best funerals, the pain is inescapable but the effect is life-enhancing. Gore fits words to music so deftly that some of his verses could be the chorus. The three ballads are beguiling, and Gahan’s voice is effortlessly soulful. You hear every line and feel all the feels.