lack of raw energy compensated with pure sympathy

(Charlotte Alessio)

“Think about the person you are when no one is looking at you and be that person.” By supporting the uninhibited fun in her latest headlining show of 2022, Bella ‘Baby Queen’ Latham set the example for her at Heaven last night. She has created a playfully cathartic alt-pop set that blends sharp-tongued satire with brutal emotional bloodletting.

Famous for snappy jokes addressing mental health issues, drug abuse, and the toxic influence of social media, the lyrics are arguably the South African singer-songwriter’s forte.

And although she was placed on the candidate list for the BBC’s Sound Of poll only recently in January, the 25-year-old’s commitment to no-holds-barred candor is already inspiring a level of fervor usually reserved for stars 10 times her stature. .

Last night, that passion was manifested in perfect words, to scream throughout the club; later in the set it was revealed that several fans had flown to the UK for the show, from countries including France, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Perhaps drawing on his recent experiences in support of Olivia Rodrigo in Europe, Latham looked absolutely unperturbed by the adoration on display. Instead, she remained laser-focused in guiding her three-piece her band through an elegant series of sugary pop-punk and grunge-pop, backed up by backing tapes with additional instrumentation and vocal harmonies.

    (Charlotte Alessio)

(Charlotte Alessio)

Unfortunately, this reliance on pre-recorded material ultimately served to deprive the show of any true sense of spontaneity, save for an unplanned encore of Online Dating caused by a playback malfunction.

What the show lacked in raw energy, Latham made up for with sheer sympathy. Covering every inch of the stage and often diving into the barriers to interact with fans, she has proved to be an attentive and enthusiastic frontwoman all along.

And in contrast to what was often a pretty heavy topic, she also displayed a keen sense of the absurd, wearing a metallic superhero outfit branded Baby Queen for her biggest hit Dover Beach and dancing with a man in a giant swimsuit. fluffy rabbit during the latest single Lazy.

The most touching moment of the night preceded a performance of These Drugs, a song that details her experiences of self-medicating to escape depression. Audibly stifled, she explained: “I love songs but have a complicated relationship with them. To continue being honest with you, I had to dig deeper into myself, unearthing parts of myself that I didn’t want to see the light of. day”.

As painful as the process of extracting that trauma undoubtedly is, in doing so, Latham is proving to be the rarest proposition: an emerging pop artist who is authentically 100% herself.

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