FKA twigs performed two shows in the Twin Cities over the weekend. Her sold-out Fine Line appearance on Friday was followed by a surprise performance at Paisley Park with none other than Prince on Saturday. Turning in powerful and unforgettable sets each night, the London singer was astonishing in scope and execution, making for a weekend that will go down in local scene lore for years to come.
The frontman's notoriety as a Roc Nation producer responsible for the bulk of Beyonce's latest album went unmentioned but was evident in certain songs' structuring, which skillfully evoked a decidedly modern instrumental sensibility with just a hint of indulgent rock posturing, but the tail-end of the set veered too close to unfortunate Filter comparisons. It was a mostly excellent set that played better when working in subtleties, reflecting on what makes the work of FKA twigs so powerful -- the art of constraint.
The first notes of "Preface" began to play ("I love another, and thus I hate myself,"), a haunting introduction akin to a church choir that met with unfettered excitement from the audience. twigs stepped to the stage dressed in combat boot high heels and a tight black top cut down the middle by a large studded gold strap, evoking a somewhat Neneh Cherry-circa-Raw Like Sushi vibe.
The stage remained intentionally low-lit, highlighting certain beats of songs with flashes of white light amidst a thick backdrop of fog. The stage show was brutally simple, casting the players as shadows amidst a well-choreographed light show while the music wormed its way into listeners' heads. Her voice, movements, and mystique were the focal points, and all were strong enough to make for one of the best stage shows in live music today.
She had a particular vulnerable intensity, owning the room while remaining true to the music's fragility and quietude. Closing on the erotically charged "How's That," her sinuous tones pitted against chaotic drum clicks and washing synths for a slow build climax, which met with massive applause from a satisfied audience.
Prince has always found muse in startlingly talented and beautiful women, and his interest in FKA twigs makes total sense. Her ability to translate pure sexuality into music reflects his own, and they share a similar electric stage presence. She played a similar set in Paisley Park's Love 4 One Another room, maintaining the magic of the previous night but with the added excitement of being in the presence of His Royal Purpleness. Some in this crowd didn't know what to do with the moments of quiet, taking the points of stripped-down ambience as cues to scream "Woo!" incessantly, but in general the crowd remained as appropriately enthralled as the Fine Line show.
Starting with a sludgy, slow-stomp version of "Let's Go Crazy," Prince played the Yang to twigs' Yin with a set of guitar-heavy riffs and solos. The moments were larger than life, as Prince led the audience to sing along to "Plectrumelectrum" and "Play That Funky Music," and "Kiss." Taking long breaks between songs initially, the final set was well worth the wait, as he went on to play "Hot Thing," "Sign O' The Times," "When Doves Cry," "Housequake," and "Fixurlifeup" back to back, with a special appearance from FKA twigs as dancer. (Prince snuck in a brief snippet of Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl," which unfortunately did not become the twigs-fronted cover song I'd hoped it would.)
It was a delight to see her in this other context, juxtaposing a more aggressive take on her earlier motions along to Prince's distinctive funk sound. After powering through some incredible guitar playing for the first portion, Prince manned the keys for the latter part of the set, eventually asking for all the lights to be turned down to turn attention away from the stage.
"There is nothing to see," Prince repeated. "Everybody dance." It was difficult advice at first: An FKA twigs show is very much a visual experience, and being in the presence of Prince makes you want to stare at him. But both sets were also visceral emotional experiences, meant to get swept away in, lost in the feeling entirely. Many were unsure how to dance to FKA twigs' meandering pace and ethereal melodies, while many couldn't stop themselves from dancing to Prince even when he was not onstage. In combination, the pair made for a profoundly enthralling show on all fronts, inspiring a steadfast crowd to new heights of participatory reverence. The weekend's sets will surely be impossible to forget.
GIMME NOISE'S GREATEST HITS