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imogen
27th February 2024

Live review: Renée Rapp at the O2 Apollo

On the heels of her recent success as Regina George in the Mean Girls reboot, Renée Rapp performed in Manchester for the first time and what a night it was
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Live review: Renée Rapp at the O2 Apollo
Credit: Renée Rapp @ Imogen Mingos

My first concert of the year was unexpectedly Renée Rapp. Following her success in The Sex Lives of College Girls and on Broadway as Regina George in Mean Girls, Rapp has been everywhere in pop culture news recently for playing Regina George in the Hollywood Mean Girls reboot alongside Auli’i Cravalho, Angourie Rice, Avantika, and Bebe Wood. She appeared on SNL recently with Jacob Elordi and Megan Thee Stallion where she performed her most recent song ‘Not My Fault’. I will be perfectly transparent in saying that I had never heard of or listened to Rapp until this year, but upon watching her in the Mean Girls reboot I was eager to witness her perform live.

After a snake-like queue that didn’t appear to be logical (since I temporarily ended up further away than when I started), I made it into the venue. I sat down in my plush, red seat that made me feel like I was about to watch a musical rather than a concert – given Rapp’s background it could have been either.

Speakers blared out Harry Styles and Doja Cat as we waited for some live music, prompting fans to scream the lyrics “leave America” from ‘As It Was’ and “define feminine, I’m feminine” from ‘Woman’ with the utmost energy. I knew right then that this would be the loudest concert of my life, and I’ve seen Fall Out Boy live.

The opening act was Leicester-born and bred Sekou – a 19-year-old rising star who more than held his ground in the O2 Apollo. Accompanied by jazzy keyboard and percussion, Sekou sang his heart out about someone that he “actually [doesn’t] care about anymore.” He certainly had the right fans to support him that night as cheers erupted when he started dancing and every chance he got to express his gratitude was met with screams and applause from the audience.

In a truly entertaining performance where classical soul met contemporary pop, Sekou transitioned seamlessly from Beyonce’s ‘Beautiful Nightmare’ to ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Eurythmics. He ended his act with ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele which he encouraged us to dedicate to our exes and sing along with him. A highly talented singer that I have no doubt will be on his own world tour very soon.

Renee Rap concert opening act
Credit: Sekou @ Imogen Mingos

At this point, the anticipation was palpable in the room as fans knew that the moment they had long been waiting for would soon be here. Fans I met in the queue told me how they bought their tickets early last year and so had been counting down the days to now. Screams erupted every time a stagehand moved a keyboard or brought on a guitar. Their excitement could not be contained.

Just when they couldn’t bear the wait any longer, a screen at the back of the stage lit up with baby photos of Rapp followed by the words “THE SEASONS CHANGE”. This was it.

Rapp burst on stage full of energy and ready to sing her heart out. Opening with ‘Talk Too Much’ to pump the crowd up, the atmosphere was electric as she performed under red lights in front of a screen showing her lip-syncing to the song. She went straight into ‘Poison Poison’, extending the mic out to her fans to sing with her.

Renee Rapp concert
Credit: Renée Rapp @ Imogen Mingos

It was after these two songs that she chose to address her audience for the first time. Her joy and excitement were visible even from the mezzanine. You could tell that she was genuinely happy to be here with her fans taking her “Manchester virginity.” Wearing her signature street style of wide-leg jeans with an oversized graphic tee and with more swagger than every audience member combined, she was ready to put on one hell of a show.

The first half of Rapp’s gig was very balanced, featuring a combination of ballads like ‘Willow’ alongside ‘Pretty Girls’ and her latest, ‘Not My Fault’, released for her appearance as Regina George in the Mean Girls reboot. During ‘Pretty Girls’, fans threw her a lesbian flag with their names written on it which Rapp held onto and waved proudly in the air for the rest of the number.

Renee Rapp concert
Credit: Renée Rapp @ Imogen Mingos

‘I Hate Boston’ was easily one of her best performances of the night. I was blown away by her ability to convey such emotion, range, and power in a single song. With my limited experience of Rapp’s musicality from only Mean Girls (2024), listening to this song live was when I realised how truly talented the 24-year-old singer is.

What struck me the most about Rapp’s performance was her stage presence. Her experience on Broadway was evident as she was able to connect with her fans and deliver an unbelievable show. Rapp clearly relished being on stage and had fun with it – smiling every chance she got, her enthusiasm and gratitude could be felt from the circle.

Renee Rapp concert
Credit: Renée Rapp @ Imogen Mingos

She then told us that the rest of her show wouldn’t be as upbeat from here. The next three songs ‘Gemini Moon’, ‘The Wedding Song’, and ‘I Wish’ were heartfelt and emotional. A fan tribute during ‘The Wedding Song’ showed standing members of the crowd holding out paper hearts with the lyrics “I’m gonna love you till my heart retires” written on them.

The screen displayed the image of a simple backlit window for her performance of ‘In The Kitchen’.  Released on her original EP back in 2022, this was one that the diehard fans had been waiting to hear live.

Rapp started singing and got through a few lines before asking her band to stop. Someone in the audience had passed out and required medical attention. She asked people to clear a path and to “tell someone something interesting about yourself” while we waited. Rapp was very courteous in making sure that everyone was okay before she resumed singing from the top. Although the song was restarted a second time, fans got her attention from the crowd and her second attempt was also cut short due to another few people collapsing in the audience. She and the crew passed water bottles out to the crowd before Rapp exited the stage.

It turns out that the night wasn’t over yet as Rapp leaving the stage was also for a costume change. She emerged dressed in an oversized white shirt and trousers to perform her final song ‘Snow Angel’. Rapp stood in front of white angel wings displayed on the screen to sing one last time in Manchester.

Renee Rapp
Credit: Renée Rapp @ Imogen Mingos

There was no encore because Rapp didn’t need one. The power of her show relied on its simplicity and her talent. There were no backup dancers or fancy lighting changes, just a talented young woman with incredible stage presence and energy. I rarely leave concerts with the sense that my expectations have been exceeded as the artists I’ve seen have always delivered, but this has really set the bar for future gigs. A brilliant performance from start to finish – mark this as my official conversion to a Renée Rapp fan!

Imogen Mingos

Imogen Mingos

Head Fashion & Beauty Editor 2023-24 | Winner of Best Newcomer (The Mancunion) at SU Awards 2023

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