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19th February 2024

Laufey live in Manchester: A Valentine’s night ‘bewitched’ by musical charm

Following her recent Grammy victory, Laufey takes the stage for a very special sold-out Valentine’s Day show at Manchester’s Albert Hall
Laufey live in Manchester: A Valentine’s night ‘bewitched’ by musical charm
Credit: Ailish O’Leary @ The Mancunion

Words by Hannah Eldon

Since last performing in Manchester at The Deaf Institute in 2022, Laufey‘s career has soared exponentially. From completing a sold-out world tour to winning her first Grammy Award, her second album Bewitched has got young fans worldwide cultivating an appreciation for jazz-infused pop. With heartfelt lyrics and a spellbinding charm, Laufey’s music created the perfect atmosphere for a Valentine’s Day performance.

As the crowd flowed into the venue, covered in bows and heart-shaped adornments, the room was radiant with a pink hue and a buzzing atmosphere ready for a magical evening.

Opening was Adam Melchor, a friend and collaborator of Laufeys’. His emotionally charged acoustic set included a range of amusing anecdotes alongside charming ballads. He spoke on his various experiences as a returning tourist in Manchester, most notably describing Northern Quarter’s Afflecks as “a place with everything you don’t need.” Melchor certainly began the night on a high, and later joined Laufey onstage as a part of her band.

The stage quickly filled with smoke as Laufey elegantly appeared, sweeping the floor dressed in what can only be described as princess-like attire. This thoughtfully put-together outfit was the perfect pairing to her fairytale-style songs, accompanied by a lilting jazz-style band.

Credit: Ailish O’Leary @ The Mancunion

A key highlight of the night occurred just minutes into her set, as she introduced her song ‘Valentine’. Whilst she serenaded the audience with this jazzy love song, the crowd raised a collection of handmade paper hearts. This extremely thoughtful fan project was soon picked up by the singer as she declared “I’ve never felt so loved on Valentine’s Day, how serendipitous!” This kind admiration for her fans continued throughout the night and sought to make her thoughtful commentaries in between songs even more personal.

From hearts to heartbreak, Laufey followed with a compassionate performance of a more melancholic track ‘Second Best’, describing it as “for the very sad and very single.” With vulnerability at its core, her music delves into the complexities of young love and self-discovery, embracing heartwarming notes and uplifting chords. She endeavoured to make her Valentine’s performance fit for everyone as she wistfully suggested to “grab your valentine, if not, I’ll be yours.”

With a light-hearted twist, Laufey gave a theatrical performance of ‘Dreamer’, twirling elegantly around the stage with a radiant charm. The crowd cheered in support when she continued to vocalise “No boy’s going to kill the dreamer in me.” This lyric proved to be perfectly true, as when she later returned for a much-demanded encore, she adjusted her lyrics to her reminiscent song ‘Letter to My 13-Year-Old Self’ to victoriously claim “and you’ll win a Grammy too.”

An especially heartwarming moment of the show began when Laufey’s violinist – and twin sister – Júnía Lín Jónsdóttir was introduced to the stage to perform alongside her. Bringing a loving playfulness, she received much admiration from the crowd as Laufey confessed to her in song, “You’re my best friend in the world.”  She later returned to her sisters’ side for her viral hit song ‘From The Start’, combining comical pop lyrics to a bossa nova beat, as the crowd chanted her signature line: “blah blah blah.”

Credit: Ailish O’Leary @ The Mancunion

Another noteworthy aspect of the show was the deliberate use of lighting to reflect an intimate evening ambience. The meticulously spotted white lights conveyed an endless, starry sky. This was particularly enchanting as Laufey perched gracefully behind the piano, vocalising ‘California and Me’. In this serene moment, her band sat beside her in an almost meditative state, closing their eyes as they, too, took in this magical performance. She had everyone around her in the palm of her hands.

Overall her show included multiple instrumental solos highlighting her remarkable classically-trained style, ranging from piano, to cello, to electric guitar. The Icelandic-Chinese singer commented on how she was brought up to appreciate jazz and classical music. Integrating this into her latest album Bewitched, Laufey explained to the audience how she was “no longer scared” to incorporate her favourite genres into her album.

Although many have praised Laufey for bringing her jazz-influenced style to Gen Z, she has often faced criticism for this comparison. However, after seeing how captivated the young audience responded to her final song, a cover of the popular jazz standard ‘My Funny Valentine’, I can safely say everyone in the Albert Hall was certainly ‘bewitched’ by her musical charm.

Catch Laufey on tour across the UK and Europe until March 13th. Tickets available here.

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