Au/Ra dazzles the O2 Academy Islington with her dark electropop

For a lot of fans in the sold-out O2 Academy Islington crowd on Thursday night, Au/Ra is most likely an artist they’ve come across as an opening act over the past year.

Whether it be Nina Nesbitt, Eden or Tove Styrke, the 17-year-old has put in the groundwork over the past 12 months. Those 30-minute opening sets were electric, something about the youngster so endearing that fans couldn’t help but leave wanting more.

And as Au/Ra glides onto the stage in full ninja get-up, here those fans are, back for the full experience. It’s a full hour-long set, featuring the old, the new and the unreleased in a night which you can’t help but feel is a monumental moment in the Antiguan’s career.

She opens with latest single ‘Assassin‘, a menacing flick that is so on brand, the ninja outfit harkening to the single’s music video. Behind the track is a story of self-sabotage and mental health, the line “it’s your own back you’ve been stabbin'” rolls off her tongue. On all her releases, it’s that lyrical talent that makes her bubbling electropop so special – Au/Ra’s X-Games EP featured on CelebMix’s Top EPs of 2018 exactly because of it.

Tracks from that groundbreaking EP make up most of the set. ‘Outlaws’ is a rallying call for outcasts which comes early on, ‘White Knuckles’ speeds things up when Au/Ra drops it and the witty ‘X Games’ is clearly a fan favourite as its sultry synths are met with a wall of sound when they kick in. Elsewhere, ‘Emoji‘ is a teenage anthem that has the front two rows of young girls jumping as their parents watch on from further back.

What marks Au/Ra out from any other teenage popstar, however, is that it’s far from just teenage ‘stans’ filling the O2 Academy Islington. Au/Ra has pulled in a real spread of fans, a credit to her biting pop.

The new material she debuts is frighteningly promising too. Fans have already heard ‘Junk Food’ and a sing-a-long Drake inspired ditty at previous shows (we REALLY need a studio version of those soon), but it’s tracks from the singer’s next project that are the most exciting. ‘Dance In The Dark’ and ‘Ideas’ see a switch to an almost disco-like chorus, fans smirking at one another with approval as Au/Ra whips her toxic green hair side-to-side to the heavier production. If that’s what the next era of Au/Ra holds, there’s no stopping the teenager anytime soon.

Inevitably, the night ends on the Camelphat-infused ‘Panic Room’, before a quieter farewell moment of ‘Concrete Jungle’. It’s only an hour, but this is still very much the start for Au/Ra. A sold-out O2 Academy Islington is a mammoth step forward. And the best thing yet? This audience is still far, far too small for her huge sound.

Did you catch Au/Ra at the O2 Academy Islington? Do you wish you did? Let us know @CelebMix on Twitter!

Written by Toby Bryant

Student journalist: music, sport, culture and just about anything in-between… Have worked for The Courier, NME, Daily Mirror, FourFourTwo & British Rowing, amongst others.
@toby_bryant_ on Instagram and Twitter.