Léon – The Courtyard Theatre, London (13th April 2016) – LIVE REVIEW

When a pop superstar crowns another singer as the next big thing, the world stands up and takes notice. Such was the case last August, when Katy Perry twitted a link to Léon’s single, Tired of Talking, and added she’s “one to watch”. With that small gesture, the formally unknown Swedish vocalist started grabbing people’s attention. Earlier this year, Spotify also caught on to the excitement and added Léon to a “Spotlight on 2016” playlist. As a result, the upbeat, poppy single is now sporting more than 18 million streams. It was only natural that a tour will be soon to follow.

It’s worth mentioning that the 21-year-old Stockholm native also comes from a very musically inclined household – her mother is a cellist and her father is a conductor. She had a small stint as a front-woman of a hip hop and soul group in her teens, before embarking on a solo career. The night of 13th of April was the singer’s debut show in London, supporting the four-track EP, ‘Treasure’, which was released at the end of last year.

The Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton was completely sold out, which is not something you’d expect on a Tuesday night. The small basement room could hardly contain the amount of air needed for everyone present and soon enough, the heat overtook it. Piles of discarded clothes started to fill the floor, and almost matched the number of empty beer cups – all in anticipation for “the one to watch”. And while Léon did not live down to the hype, she also didn’t excel. She just hovered somewhere in the middle, in the safe zone between the two.

Most of Léon’s songs can be considered as dance-floor worthy. At her Facebook page she defines herself as indiepop/soul/whatever, but an easier way to describe it is just pop, or maybe, if you insist – Swedish pop. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s also nothing new about it. You can turn on the radio and hear ten more artists who sound like Léon, in any given day. And yet, it’s the kind of music that makes it hard to stand still. The entire audience was dancing, almost non-stop, throughout the 40-minutes set. The band was also very tight, and Léon’s voice can often shine – no doubt about it; especially during the slower songs, like ‘Léon Lullaby‘ and a cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ Although unlike the moving Lullaby, the cover really didn’t work.

As the singer doesn’t play any instrument on stage, her performance relies solely on her vocals. This shouldn’t be a problem because Léon clearly has the chops to pull it off, but for some reason, she doesn’t use it enough. Maybe it’s the dancey character of the music that doesn’t allow it, or perhaps it’s her lack of touring experience. But something is just missing – that extra push that will turn an okay gig, into a great one. Hopefully, by the time her first full-length album drops (sometime during the summer), she’d gain enough performing-mileage to get to that “one to watch” destination.

This Léon article was written by Tal Imagor, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson. Header photo by @kdswick on Instagram.