Lykke Li at the House of Blues: Event Review

On Friday, Lykke Li stopped by the House of Blues in Boston in celebration of her most recent album, I Never Learn. The Swedish emotional pop singer returns after her most passionately deep and personal work yet, however, that didn’t stop her from dancing awkwardly, thrashing away on the drums, or rapping a verse from Outkast. In spite of the sentimental tunes and emotional landscape, Lykke Li brought on her six-piece band to fill the stage and fully expand her sound. 

Inviting recent pop singer Mapei to open for her was a great decision in getting the crowd pumped and on their feet. Mapei, whose unique style can’t entirely be sectioned, but think of a mixture of Macy Gray and Little Dragon with some New Orleans flare thrown in. She managed to get the crowd energized before relying on her newly found success in her hit single, “Don’t Wait,” which you’ve definitely heard snippets of in commercials this past summer.

Opening up with the title track and first song on I Never Learn, Lykke Li kicked things off in her classic black apparel and her patted flat, stringy hair. Between the flashy lights and Lykke Li’s kinetic energy levels, it was apparent from the start that this is a show, much unlike her stagnant, heavy emotional music video for “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone,” featuring Lykke Li tearing up on camera. Although it wasn’t a somber performance, Lykke Li didn’t shun away from showing her emotions. Throughout the show, she pounded her chest, banged on some drums, and danced to the beat of her own. She even remarked at one point that she was a terrible dancer, and she wanted the audience to join in with her, so she didn’t look like a fool.

Balancing a fine thread between an energetic and sentimental front woman, Lykke Li looked incredibly confident and comfortable on stage, which is refreshing after the heaviness of her recent album. One of the greatest moments of the show was a rather surprising cover of a Bruce Springsteen song, “I’m on Fire.” The song came after the self-inflecting pang of “Sleeping Alone,” and fit perfectly into the feel of the show. The crowd reacted incredibly in-awe, even if not many of them had heard the original before.

On her second-to-last song of the night, “Youth Knows No Pain,” Lykke Li turned up the bass near the end, rapped an Outkast verse, and performed an unexpected remix of the song that raised the energy, before ending with “Get Some.” On the encore, Lykke Li invited Mapei back on stage to close with “Heart of Steel,” bringing the show to a full, incredibly enjoyable circle. Although she surprisingly didn’t play “I’m Good, I’m Gone,” Lykke Li expressed a different, less depressing, side of her that we haven’t seen in a while. She sounded recording-level good, she was strong and confident, and it’s quite possible that her release of I Never Learn was a cleansing and introspective moment for her to then move on to a much more cheerful performer.