Concert Reviews

M.I.A. at Tattoo

Photographs by Sean Chin.

For a very exclusive audience,  M.I.A. was to open this year’s Canadian Music Week, and the wait for this exciting show felt as long as the initial twenty minutes as it did the months leading up to this show. A set that was meant to be at Yonge and Dundas square was changed to Tattoo on Queen street near the last second, but this quick switch worked out for the better as her carnival light filled set looked stunning indoors in such a small space. The heat got to everyone though and the wait at eleven PM felt like an eternity while M.I.As DJ opened her set with some catchy tracks. With everyone bunched together in such a tight area, M.I.As presence was much to be desired.

Finally M.I.A. came on in her heart shaped glasses, bright pants and bad girl belt buckle.  She came to kick ass and she did just that. The wait was worth it for the audience as M.I.As spastic backing dancers and singers ripped the stage wide open. M.I.A. herself was on the fence the entire night. Songs off of the highly acclaimed Matangi album were performed. Talent wise, she was on point always. She seemed bothered with the sound set up however; the music sounded great but lacked a bit of bass. In fact she refused to play last years hit Bad Girls because of the sound system not being able to give it justice. She eventually gave in at the very end, performing a vocal only rendition of the song until the sound was fixed and the song could be sung normally.

M.I.A. is a true performer because she can command a set no matter what happens. She too felt hot and so she decided to join the crowd at the back for a few songs including the best selling Paper Planes amongst the crowd. This magical moment was clearly unrehearsed and is a good example of how quick M.I.A. is on her feet. The dancing, singing and performing all seemed on the fly but too good to be improvised. Her sense of natural professionalism made for a brilliant night even with the odd feedback and sound issues.

The blaring lights and tasteful use of strobes, both unabused, made a lovely backdrop for those on stage as their performing was the loudest aspect of the show. With a slew of bangers, ranging from Double Bubble Trouble to Boyz to, well, Bamboo Banger, the entire show was pumping and full of energy especially with such a tight and aggressive audience. With an unpredictable ring leader,  a gang of party goers,  a circus light show and a small crowd of lucky music lovers, the set didn’t just open Canadian Music Week: it opened the summer.

Thanks to Audio Blood for media access.

About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.