“I want to make tonight extra special London! I’ve got some surprises in store for you – are you ready?”
Following a successful run of shows in Australia, Asia and mainland Europe, pop princess Rita Ora brought her Phoenix World Tour to London’s O2 Arena Friday night (May 24th) – delivering a deeply personal, transcendent show, filled with back to back hits.
A thrilling night full of fun, theatrics and high energy, fans were encouraged to leave behind their troubles and lose themselves in Ora’s world.
With London being the city in which she grew up in and by her own admission, the city where all of her childhood dreams came true, Rita Sahatçiu Ora made sure her show at The O2 Arena was was an extra special one with surprise appearances from friends and collaborators, Charli XCX, Sean Paul and Liam Payne.
Over the years some may have tried to dismiss Rita Ora, downplaying her musical achievements and cultural impact, but on Friday night, in London’s biggest arena, was the night she proved her naysayers wrong, once and for all.
Calling support act ‘Four Of Diamonds’ to the stage…
British girl group Four Of Diamonds first rose to fame after competing on the 13th series of The X Factor in 2017.
Made up of Caroline Alvares, Yasmin Broom, Lauren Rammell and Sophia Saffarian, the group signed to Virgin EMI Records in 2018 – the first girl group to do so since The Spice Girls back in the mid 90’s – and have been working nonstop since to create their own unique musical style of empowering, relatable WOKE r&b/pop!
Arriving onstage with infectious attitude and a sense of purpose and power, the four girls sparked an energy in the room that would only build and grow as the night went on, intrinsically setting the tone for tour headliner Rita Ora.
Commanding the audiences attention with immediate effect, the girls made the O2 stage their own – performing a strong set complete with slick choreography, tight vocal harmonies and killer tunes including the singles ‘Name On It’ and ‘Stupid Things’ as well as their latest release ‘Walk Away’.
Four Of Diamonds ‘Walk Away’ (Official Music Video):
With a confidence and chemistry that most girl bands can only dream of, there’s a genuine and undeniable sense of camaraderie between the ladies as they perform, so powerful that it translates from the stage right into the audience creating a visceral connection between them and their fans.
Empowering, sassy and clearly genuinely grateful to be there, Four Of Diamonds were the perfect opener for the phoenix herself, Miss Rita Ora…
“The Phoenix. The mythical bird that rises from the ashes – I’ve risen from fear and grief, from scandal and suffering… and from the crushing loneliness of walking with a purpose that is outside myself. But not within me. I know what’s within me, and I’m ready to fly again.”Rita Ora
As the house lights go down in one of London’s most iconic concert venues, rapturous applause and deafening screams echo around the room as huge LED screens light up the arena. Crescendoing, distorted synths begin to pulsate the space, swelling and growing with each beat, building to an explosive climax complete with fireworks and pyrotechnics. One thing is clear, Rita Ora did NOT come to play, she has something to say and she will make her voice heard.
Surrounded by a troop of dancers, all dressed in etherial white, Ora ascends from underneath the stage, symbolising a phoenix rises from the ashes, to the sounds of her 2017 hit ‘Your Song’.
Right from the get-go, you get the sense that Rita is on a mission, a mission to use her show as a vessel to create a sense of unity and togetherness – a message and feeling that is highlighted throughout the evening, especially in those opening moments as the word ‘LOVE’ is emblazoned across the stages screens for all to see.
Capitalising on the energy and momentum created by the shows powerful opening, and staying true to her earlier promise of giving fans a night full of ‘surprises’ – the crowd go wild as Rita brings out ‘best friend’ Charli XCX to perform their anthemic duet ‘Doing It’ before segueing into Ora’s most recent single release, the haunting ‘Only Want You’.
Vocally, Ora is flawless. Whether flying through the air and somersaulting from high wires during Phoenix album track ‘Summer Love’, or playfully twerking up against another of the nights surprise guests, Sean Paul, during their version of the Jamaican dancehall rappers 2003 hit ‘Get Busy’, Rita’s voice never falters, delivering powerful vocals and spine tingling runs throughout the course of the 90 minute show.
Yet it is during some of the nights more tender moments that the ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ singer truly shines as a vocalist, as she demonstrates her ability to wrap each lyric she sings in pure emotion for songs ‘Let You Love Me’ and ‘Coming Home’.
“If you are proud of who you are make some noise!”Rita Ora
Unity, self acceptance and learning to love ones self are just some of the occurring themes that run throughout the show.
Clearly passionate to empower her audience, Rita calls for fans to be their authentic selfs during controversial single ‘Girls’, which playfully transitions into a sing-along version of the 1983 Cyndi Lauper classic ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ before the 28 year-old Kosovo native tells the crowd…
“Whether you are gay, straight, bi, whatever it is – this is a tour of love and acceptance. You need to accept every single person standing next to you for who they are.”
Combing strong production with new musical arrangements, Rita’s impressive catalogue of hit songs are elevated to whole new levels of euphoria, with the anthemic essence captured in so many of her tracks embellished and brought to life by an incredible live band, further enforcing that message of feeling united which clearly sparks a chord with fans as they sing along to every song and every video interlude.
Clearly inspired by the likes of Madonna, Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Janet Jackson, pop icons all of whom are known for creating elaborate and theatrical concert tours, Rita Ora has developed a stage presence and swag all of her own – performing with confidence and ease, exuding a charisma and effortless sex appeal that very few can carry off. She is clearly in her element wearing Victoria Secret inspired wings as belts out debut single ‘R.I.P’ and the Iggy Azalea track ‘Black Widow’ and unashamedly loves every minute.
For the shows encore Rita was joined onstage by her final star guest of the night, One Direction’s Liam Payne, for their Fifty Shades Freed duet ‘For You‘ before turning the O2 into a rousing 70’s nightclub for closing numbers ‘Lonely Together’ and ‘Anywhere’.
Wearing a silver, metallic dress the sheer joy and gratitude Ora feels towards, and for her audience was heartwarming and evident for all to see.
RITA ORA ‘PHOENIX TOUR’ SET LIST
The Rise of The Phoenix
Doing It (with Charli XCX)
Only Want You
If Everything Seems Under Control, You’re Not Going Fast Enough
Girls / Girls Just Wanna Have Fun mashup
Get Busy (with Sean Paul)
Cheap Thrills (with Sean Paul)
Let You Love Me
Hell Of A Life
Body On Me
I Will Never Let You Down
She Rose Again
Hot Right Now
For You (with Liam Payne)
The Phoenix Tour captures a moment in time in the life of a young women coming into her own, embracing her new found artistic freedom and rising from the ashes of disaster to take control of her career and destiny.
Rita Ora may not have had the easiest of rides over the past few years, but she never gave up and never let anybody take away her power – her incredible live show in London was evidence that this is one artist we should never count out.