Lykke Li - The Theatre at Ace Hotel - May 19, 2014

Lykke Li
Lykke Li
Photo by Timothy Norris

Lykke Li
The Theatre at Ace Hotel
May 19, 2014

Lykke Li performed at the Ace Hotel last night, at its historic 1927 Spanish Gothic style United Artists Theatre. She played before about 1,600 audience members, mostly dressed in all black - as was the 28-year-old Swedish songstress herself.

The attire seemed appropriate for the material off of her latest album, I Never Learn, out earlier this month. "All we ever want to do is dance," she said. "Unfortunately I wrote a really sad album that now I have to perform."

Filled with lyrics about lost love and loneliness, there is something solemn about her newest tracks. But as depressing as the lyrics can be, the music behind them is uplifting and vibrant.

"This might be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," Li said, discussing a moment she had backstage. "I saw myself as a child and I thought, 'I've come a long way, man.'"

See also: Our gallery of the show

Lykke Li
Lykke Li
Photo by Timothy Norris

She kicked things off with the title track of I Never Learn. Muted acoustic guitar provided the backdrop, while a stinging violin weaved in and out of Li's lyrics: ""I lie here like a starless lover/ I'll die here as your phantom lover/ I never learn." 

Heartbreak was obviously what inspired I Never Learn, which includes tracks like "Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone," "Never Gonna Love Again," Heart of Steel," and "Sleeping Alone."

Thanks to producers Greg Kurstin (who has also worked with Tegan & Sara, Sia, and The Shins) and Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, the tracks still shimmer, despite hopeless lyrics: "Drive me to the dead end, till I/ Promise not to run this time/ I can't  keep running away cause/ I'm never gonna love again."

Lykke Li
Lykke Li
by Timothy Norris

For every downtrodden track, though, Li lifted the mood with soulful hits from 2008's Youth Novels and 2011's Wounded Rhymes. The audience rose at the sweetly recognizable, pre-heartbreak "Little Bit": 

"And for you I keep my legs apart/ and forget about my tainted heart... .I think I'm a little bit in love with you."

Hips swayed and hands snapped to "I Follow Rivers," and the stage flooded with red light as she sang the intro to Beyonce's "Drunk in Love." (She never got past the intro, though the audience would have lost their minds if she had.)

After mellowing out with a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs," a song Li said reminds her of Los Angeles, she went into the percussion heavy "Get Some," which demands: "Don't pull your pants before I go down/ Don't turn away, this is my time/ Like a shotgun needs an outcome/ I'm your prostitute, you gon' get some."

Li knows how to love, and how to lose it. But from the sound of the audience, it was clear that Lykke Li is loved.

Set list below

Set list:

I Never Learn
Love Out of Lust
Just Like a Dream
Hanging High
Never Gonna Love Again
Little Bit
Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone
Sleeping Alone
I Follow Rivers
Rich Kids
Silver Springs
Get Some


Du Ar Den Ende
Sadness is a Blessing

See also: Our gallery of the show

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