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25th November 2019

LM5 Tour: the embodiment of female empowerment in pop

Laura Davies reviews Little Mix’s LM5 tour which promoted all things feminism, including standing up to what you believe in and rejecting unfair criticism
LM5 Tour: the embodiment of female empowerment in pop
Photo: Laura Davies @ The Mancunion

Since their formation on The X Factor in 2011, Little Mix have been a dominating force in pop music.

Although their music has matured greatly over the past eight years, there is no doubt that their message of ‘girl power’ has always shone through, and in a music industry where artists such as Chris Brown can make a comeback without question, this message has never been more needed than now. The LM5 tour promotes the group’s fifth studio album, and it encapsulates all that is great about modern feminism.

From the very start of the performance, feminism and independence were promoted with the lyrics of the first three songs, ‘Salute’, ‘Power’ and ‘Woman Like Me.’ Each song strongly carried the themes of women coming together and supporting each other, and not conforming to traditional gender roles. These songs had huge productions with intricate dance routines, including a multitude of backup dancers and plenty of props such as fire cannons. However, at times this staging came with the price of losing out on some vocals, with the singers seeming out of breath after only a few minutes.

This amount of showmanship has never been expected of or been produced by boy bands. Comparing their performance to tours of One Direction – standing on stage with dance moves consisting of nothing more than some dramatic hand movements – made it evident just how much more work went into each Little Mix show. These double standards shouldn’t need to be something that Little Mix hold themselves to, but the fact they do makes their shows far more entertaining than those by any comparable boy band.

The next act of the performance began with a video interlude entitled ‘Opinions’, which mainly featured clips of Piers Morgan criticising the group’s provocative stage outfits. This is something that has been discussed a lot in the media, with many suggesting that the sexualised images they portray is, somehow, ‘un-feminist.’ However, Little Mix have been outspoken in their opinion that feminism is about wearing what you want and what feels comfortable, regardless of the opinions of others, and they followed the video with a rendition of ‘Wasabi’, a song that shows how they don’t listen to or care about criticism. Little Mix are unapologetically sexy, and their clear defiance of the opinions of others pushes their message of independence further.

The following act was comprised of Little Mix’s slower songs; this gave the performance a much more emotional, powerful tone as production gave way to exceptional vocal performances. ‘Told You So’ and ‘The Cure’ are songs with messages of supporting one another, talking about your emotions and not letting a man’s opinion of you affect your self-worth; all of which are part of the healthy mental practices the group promote. This was also the point in the performance where the fans support of Jesy was especially prominent, after the release of her BBC documentary, Odd One Out, in September, where she discussed the effects that online bullying have had on her. Often, arena concerts such as this one can feel impersonal, as if there is a disconnect between the artist and crowd. However, the combination of Little Mix’s openness with fans and the floating stage in the crowd allowed everyone in the arena to feel a personal connection with the group.

The message of female empowerment was further pushed with the next collection of songs. ‘Wings’ and ‘Shout Out to My Ex’ have lyrics promoting following your dreams, being ambitious, and not letting people who don’t care about you hold you back. The following song, ‘Joan of Arc’, encourages the idolisation of strong female role models and accepting the label of feminist without question.

Little Mix’s final message to fans, before their encore, was that they hoped that if all the young boys and girls in the audience took one thing from the performance it was empowerment, and their concluding statement could not have rounded up their performance better. They once again proved themselves to be excellent role models to their younger fans, telling them to be unashamedly themselves, not care too much about what others think and to always stand up for what they believe in. Their performance was powerful, personal, at times emotional, but always, above all, empowering.


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