Gig review: Rina Sawayama, SWG3, Glasgow – 13th November 2021

Nearly two years after its initial release, Rina Sawayama is finally able to tour her debut album SAWAYAMA. The stage is set with two podiums on either side, elevating the guitarist and the drummer, and a central staircase which Sawayama struts down, kicking the show off with album opener, ‘Dynasty’.

Sawayama is then joined by two dancers before launching into ‘STFU!’, with its huge opening grunge riff in stark contrast to the ethereal opener, displaying the full range of Sawayama’s writing ability within the first ten minutes of the performance. And the crowd is ecstatic, chanting along, and seamlessly swapping from swaying to the soft spoken chorus, to stomping and headbanging as the grunge riff comes back in.

The show continued to be a highlight reel. From preparing the audience for ‘Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)’ by declaring that ‘something very LGBT is about to happen’, to Sawayama being politely passed a toy saxophone in time for the solo on ‘Paradisin’’, and even debuting a brand new song, ‘Catch Me in the Air’, before closing the show out with an old fan favourite ‘Cherry’.

After a suitable amount of screaming, from the crowd it must be added, Sawayama returns to the stage for her encore in an outfit dripping with Y2K inspiration, a nod to her early 2000s pop influences. She declares her final song will be dedicated to Britney Spears in celebration of the end of her conservatorship. The song, of course, is Sawayama’s remix of ‘Free Woman’ from the latest Lady Gaga album. The crowd could barely contain themselves.

The show ends, the house lights come on, and ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears is blaring over the speakers as the fans wander away. The arenas beckon.

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