fri 19/07/2024

Mimi Webb, O2 Academy, Glasgow review - TikTok queen fails to fire with sparse set | reviews, news & interviews

Mimi Webb, O2 Academy, Glasgow review - TikTok queen fails to fire with sparse set

Mimi Webb, O2 Academy, Glasgow review - TikTok queen fails to fire with sparse set

A lack of legitimate pop bangers held the performance back

Mimi Webb didn't command the stage at her sell out show

Blake Rose clearly wasn’t leaving anything to chance. The support act bounded onstage draped in a Saltire, and soon brought up his days growing up in Aberdeen before moving to Australia. That Scottish upbringing helped inspire one of his songs, “Sweet Caledonia”, and going by the lively reaction he received from the youthful Glasgow crowd they were glad to take him as their own.

Musically, it was a tougher sell, and he came across like the result of a record company executive barking out demands to find another Sam Fender, but poppier and smoother. The melodies were pleasant, but a knockout track was more elusive.

Still, if Rose wants inspiration he could easily look to the night’s headliner. As Mimi Webb herself noted, it wasn’t long ago that she was playing to audiences that wouldn’t have covered one level of the Academy, and now she was selling it out. Prior to her arrival the screaming youngsters joined in the choruses to many of the tunes being blasted out over the PA, a number of which were almost certainly known to them through Tik Tok, the app that played a major part of Webb’s rise.

That showed at times in the music ,with a number of brief sub three minute pop tunes being clattered into rapidly. There was a desire for instant gratification there, and on the totemic drumming of “Remind You” or the sleek, synth driven “The Other Side” there was enough heft underpinning the songs to leave a mark.

However the majority of the main set was a frustrating one. The setting and production was sparse, with Webb on the main stage and a three piece backing band on a raised section behind her, accompanied only by flashing lights and no videos. Unlike some of her contemporaries, from Dylan to Billie Eilish, Webb isn’t so assured a performer as to dominate that space by themselves, and her main trick was simply to wave her arms in the air like a flailing sailor appealing for rescue.

Such a minimal backdrop meant her songs had to do the heavy lifting, and too many of her tunes fit an indie snob stereotype’s of modern pop, all polished but instantly forgettable, with “24/5” blandly indecipherable underneath a thick beat, “Amelia” as generic as a sit down acoustic ballad can be and “Halfway” the sort of glossy empowerment pop sung by a Disney heroine before the film’s actual memorable tunes arrive.

It was noticeable that in the balcony many of the crowd remained seated throughout, never a good sign for a pop gig, and everything about the gig, from the bland lights display to a sole costume change, lacked the energy and pizzazz you desire from modern pop. As the likes of Charli XCX or Bruno Mars display, great pop possesses both a beating heart and adventurous excitement, and those elements were sporadic here.

Only during the night’s encore did excitement consistently arrive, with “Last Train To London” a rousing ballad that let Webb’s vocals really take off, and a double bill of “Red Flags” and “House On Fire” delivering the two genuine pop bangers she has, both irresistibly danceable. Webb preceded them by declaring it was time to party, but you wished she’d brought more of that attitude to the previous hour.

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