FKA twigs’ Magdalene Tour Is a Masterclass in Showmanship (REVIEW)
To people who just take a cursory glance, FKA twigs is the definition of an enigma. But those who witness her art firsthand know otherwise.
During the first Brooklyn stop of her Magdalene Tour at the Kings Theatre on Wednesday (Nov. 20), the abstract electronic-R&B artist proved herself to be an invigorating performer, a true showgirl and most significantly, utterly human. Much like the album it supports, her show was gradually revealed in layers, building up to a noisy, grand crescendo before starkly stripping everything back once again, leaving nothing but pure, unbridled emotion on stage.
The musician opened the show not with one of her songs, but rather, a tap dance, performed in front of a stark, grandiose curtain. When she picked up a mic to launch into her debut single “Hide,” there was still nothing shown on stage but her voice. Soon after, another curtain featuring clouds was revealed. A couple songs later, her dancers finally appeared, their movements expanding and growing throughout. She switched between intricately choreographed routines to almost alarmingly intimate moments at breakneck speed: There was tap dancing, sword dancing, hip-hop dancing and yes, pole dancing, the latter during which she contorted her body into so many gravity-defying positions that I’m not sure how her bone structure is still in tact.
But few moments were as intense as the breakdown of “mary magdalene,” when twigs, wearing her regal garb, slowly descended into the crowd, paced the front row and quickly approached an unsuspecting fan, caressing their face with such a caring look in her eyes that it felt saintly. She then emerged back on stage, power renewed and showing off astounding vocal acrobatics on “home with you”. But that power soon turned to anger as she dropped her (literal) sword and the curtain fell with a loud bang, revealing her band on a stark three-story metal structure, fastened with several metal beams and the aforementioned pole. At once, the show grew into a proper
spectacle... and then went back to basics.
Two-thirds into the show, after twigs already transformed into superwoman in the crowd’s eyes, she suddenly became human, looking over her shoulder and addressing the audience with a coy, “Hi!” She asked the crowd some questions: How many people came here alone? (A decent amount.) How many of us were single? (She said Brooklyn gave the loudest response of the tour, go figure.) How many people here have had their heart broken? Nearly everyone. “It’s OK,” she said. “I’ve had mine broken, too.”
Cue the devastating “mirrored heart,” during which she sobbed as she croaked the final words: “They just remind me I’m without you.”
It’s rare for a performer to show that much emotion on stage, let alone such a theatrical, avant-garde one like twigs. But that theatricality is her power, her disguise and her tool used for getting her feelings across in a masterfully chilling way. Even her most well known hit, “Two Weeks”, felt both sensual and distressed in the context of the show. By the time the curtain came back down one last time for “Cellophane,” once again letting just her soaring voice shine through, there was no dry eye in the house.
The Magdalene Tour reminds us of the importance of all-out spectacle, with twigs proving that theatricality doesn’t always detract from a performer’s vulnerability and raw talent. It reinforces it.