Local Current Blog

Review and photos: FKA twigs brings strength and intention to masterful Palace Theatre performance

Photos by Lucy Hawthorne for MPR

Thirty minutes after her scheduled set time, following a half-hour of increasingly urgent electronic music, FKA twigs floated in front of the velvet curtain of the Palace Theatre on Thursday night.

Her eyes were covered in ruby red crystals and she wore a massive volume of lavish fabrics that made it impossible to tell where one garment ended and another began. Choral voices echoed over the speakers singing the opening lines to her song “Mary Magdalene”: “A woman’s work/ A woman’s prerogative.” Before Twigs herself uttered a single note, she began tap dancing. Feverish, impassioned, she ignited the evening with the energy of a surreal journey that was just beginning.

FKA twigs (often referred to as just “twigs”) is an English art-pop singer who began releasing music in 2012 with her first two EPs, appropriately titled EP1 and EP2. Quickly following these releases was the 2014 release of her debut album, LP1. With plenty of critical and popular buzz backing her career, Twigs halted her work shortly after this release due to health issues that she publicly discussed at the beginning of this year. Her second LP, Magdalene, was released last week to the eager reception of her long-awaiting fan base.

With costumes that changed every few songs, an ever-evolving set, and four backup dancers, twigs’s performance felt more akin to an opera than a typical concert. It began with the artist alone, her voice a quivering strand of gossamer amidst abrasive percussion, distorted cello, and hazy basslines. As momentum increased, so did the magnitude of the production.

During “Home With You,” twigs, dressed in a long skirt and headdress reminiscent of Mary Magdalene herself, pleaded to some memory, “I didn’t know that you were lonely/ If you’d have just told me, I’d be home with you.” During this song, she was joined on stage by backup dancers with sinister masks resembling those of an ancient Greek chorus. They wore them on their faces, the backs of their heads, their knees, hands, arms, so many masks that FKA twigs was poised in the center of a faceless crowd, amplifying the loneliness she sang about.

Over halfway through the set, the blue-sky backdrop fell away to reveal a scaffolding where three musicians stood, perched eight feet in the air. Being able to visualize the trio, who played a rotating cast of instruments, added a sense of immediacy to the performance. The scaffolding provided a perfect backdrop for twigs to dive into the sultrier moments from her discography like Magdalene single “Holy Terrain.”

In an Instagram post earlier this year, Twigs disclosed that learning how to dance with a pole was an important part of her physical and emotional recovery after living with health issues. She shared this journey with her audience during “Lights On” when she glided around the pole in a breathtaking display of both grace and power.

Often in art the word “raw” is synonymous with work that is rough around the edges, a sort of direct, uninhibited message from the artist’s emotional state. FKA twigs turned that notion inside out and translated her raw vulnerability through a meticulously planned performance.

Every moment of the hour-and-a-half set felt loaded with intention. Twigs shared her heartbreak like a gift, understanding the power in the vulnerability that she possesses as something beautiful to be shared, and something delicate to be protected. Her strength was visible in every moment, from the delicate turn of her wrist to signal end of applause, to her masterful choreography, to the moments when she was brought near tears reliving her own heartbreak.

Twigs shared few words with the audience, which made her sitting down and addressing the crowd midway through the set feel incredibly weighty. She spoke in a near-whisper, her voice sounding closer to some sort of dreamlike fairy than the ferocious performer she had just shown herself to be. She acknowledged that the show marked almost five years to the day of the last, and only other, time she had been in the Twin Cities. “That day was special because I was visited by an angel,” she confided. “A purple angel.”

Closing out her set was the lead single from Magdalene: “Cellophane,” a heart-wrenching, sparse ballad. She stood alone on stage and painfully performed alongside a skeletal piano and nothing else. Twigs took her time delivering each line, deliberately instilling each word with the gravity for which they were written. As the song came to a close, Twigs breathed an audible sigh of relief, and so did the thousands who filled the Palace who had been holding their breath in her presence.

Tap dance
Water Me
Figure 8
Video Girl
Thousand Eyes
Mary Magdalene
Home With You
Sad Day
Fallen Alien
Fukk Sleep (A$AP Rocky Cover)
Holy Terrain
Mirrored Heart
Papi Pacify
Lights On
Two Weeks