Mitski at 02 Apollo Manchester review

Mitski is usually enjoyed in isolation. Her sprawling indie sonnets and heartbreaking confessions have received worldwide acclaim, but there’s still something so personal, so intimate, captured on a Mitski track. And that’s why, as you walk through the bustling crowd at Manchester’s O2 Apollo, something feels off.

Instead of a quiet chant at 3 in the morning, thousands of voices are speaking around you. On stage, luxurious red drapes hang from the ceiling. The band members gear up, get ready to blast Mitski’s rip into the speakers. It’s as if your most cherished secrets are about to be plucked from the shadows and thrust into the spotlight.

As Mitski finally appears, something changes. The gentle instrumentals of “Everyone” roll out easily, Mitski’s voice as good as it sounds on record — but there’s also a welcome wave of fans singing back. It’s an immediate reminder that everyone in the room has consumed Mitski under the same circumstances as you. Mitski is everyone’s secret from 3am; everyone went because of her painful vocal weirdness, those lyrics that hit a little too close to home. With this knowledge comfortably acquired, you settle in for an evening of gorgeous orchestral melancholy.

While Mitski’s sonic world is soft and introverted, her persona on stage is anything but; Mitski shines under the glare of the spotlight. From the euphoric, erratic flourish during ‘Geyser’ to the graceful intimate waltz of heaven, the singer weighs in with showmanship. Every track is elevated by the use of her body – even if that means crawling on your hands and knees and panting desperately during ‘I Bet On Losing Dogs’.

Mitski’s bold physique only accentuates her juxtaposing personalities. While her words can float with grace and poise, there’s always something deeply self-deprecating lurking around the corner. When the singer takes a second to address the crowd, her pessimistic thoughts manage to sum up her persona best; “Tonight was so, so great… I can’t wait for the inevitable bad thing to happen,” her soft voice muses somberly.

READ MORE: ★★★★☆ Earth is inhospitable and so are we review | Mitski puts authenticity over commercialism

Fortunately for Mitski, the scales of fate are tipped in her favor. Tracks like “First Love/Late Spring” and her 2023 breakthrough “My Love Mine All Mine” have the crowd rapt, the room filling with thousands of eager voices singing along.

Visually, Mitski also dazzles during pieces like “Last Words of a Shooting Star,” dazzling shards of mirror extending from the ceiling and light flashing around the room like a disco ball. “Bug Like An Angel” is particularly haunting, with Mitski standing in a misty blue haze as live drums hammer out the impossibly loud, ethereal chorus vocals that contrast with the throbbing, brooding percussion.

As “Washing Machine Heart” marks the end of the set, you take a moment to enjoy the magic of the evening. While a packed crowd is a stark contrast to a solitary bedroom listening session, Mitski somehow manages to capture that same intimacy and amplify it into something much more personal. It’s a chilling experience and an even deeper understanding of why Mitski has become the Indie Darling of the world.

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