Live Review: Haykey Kiyoko - O2 Kentish Town, London 06/02/19

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Last time I saw Hayley Kiyoko, she was in O2 Islington for her debut London and UK show. This time around, and not many months later, she is playing the 2300-capacity O2 Kentish Town Forum and it's not just the venue that has upped. Seeing Hayley Kiyoko in O2 Islington made you feel like you were in on a secret. There is nothing secret about two sold out shows in O2 Kentish Town Forum and the huge hype that this tour got across social media.

Naaz, an Amsterdam-based artist, opened the night with a Hayley Kiyoko meets Hayley Williams style sound. She didn't feel out of her depth performing to a venue of this size and graced the audience with an astounding cover of Kanye West's Ultralight Beam. She set the tone of the evening: strong female vocals and lots of bopping around the stage. 

Taking to the stage in sequin pants and alongside her awesome female drummer, Hayley Kiyoko opened her set with ‘Under The Blue’, a track on her album, Expectations, but not anything near the hits, ‘What I Need’ and ‘Girls Like Girls’, that followed. She was joined on stage by two backup dancers during ‘What I Need’ and at first, I thought it would throw off her single female energy, but a bigger stage and bigger venue demands a bigger stage performance. The crowd's reaction was a testament to the value of the backup dancers; they went absolutely wild for the singer's dance moves as they always seem to do. There are few artists I have seen that have commanded as much energy from the crowd as Hayley Kiyoko does, the voices of 2300 people bouncing around the room. 

Her vocals got better and better throughout the show after some difficulties mastering the volume of her vocals at the start of the set. This went relatively unnoticed though as Hayley’s dancing was so well choreographed with the backup danvers. What struck me is that when the dancers were not on stage, Hayley seemed to lose some of her energy, something that I was not expecting. In the times when I thought she would be singing to the front row or jiving to her tracks, she was stood still with her mic on the stand. But she made up for it with the tightly choreographed routines happening through a selection of the songs and during the interludes of her set.

A few songs in, she sat down, near the back of the stage behind a screen of lights and sang one of her slower songs, Molecules, whilst one of the backup dancers did a solo ballet-style routine. After playing the huge hits, the crowd quickly felt rather disengaged from her set - perhaps stripping her performance back to this kind of style isn’t a great move for the artist. 

The energy of the show was quickly revived as she performed ‘Wanna Be Missed’. And at this point, I am wondering and hoping that she is working on a new album or at least some new music - it feels like the right time for her to be doing it, but there is no mention of such things happening. 

Appearing with a white bass guitar for the end of ‘Wanna Be Missed’, it is clear that multi-instrumentalist Hayley is putting everything she has into this tour. She takes some time to draw attention to the fact that this is her first tour with lights like these and a fog machine, which has been making an appearance throughout the entire set. She issues a thank you for the opportunity to stand on stage and sing about women, a coveted experience for the artist.

She concluded ‘Curious ‘with a killer dance routine and I have never seen the top balcony dance as much as I did tonight. As with all her gigs, the venue is radiating love by the end of the set and thanking her amazing team, she leaves the stage on an absolute high. 

I am excited for what the next year will bring for Hayley Kiyoko and which direction her career is going to take next, but I am hoping that this will include a new album sometime soon. 

Words by Max Herridge

Photography by Burak Cingi