Back in 2019 after two successive tours following a massive LP, Be The Cowboy, Mitski took a step back from touring to focus on her own self. But time and distance has a way of changing perspective, and soon songs started to work their way back out again. With a global pandemic that put the brakes on touring, that focus ended up creating the brilliant Laurel Hell, with its name taken from thickets of rhododendron bushes that sprout white fragrant blossoms in the summer heat but are toxic. And that mirrors the complexity on the album of the same name.
Over the break between albums and touring, Mitski also found herself in the strange world of TikTok and videos that have highlighted works like “Washing Machine” and “Nobody” from Be The Cowboy, creating a groundswell of new fans that sing along to every word. And this was no more evident than at the second of two sold-out performances at The Anthem Monday night.
Due to covid-related concerns, there was no opening performer, with Mitski kicking off things early to a huge applause as the opening theremin-like lines came slinking through the speakers. Mitski then walked across the stage before a white door, singing “I need you to love me more… Love enough to fill me up.” Moving slowly from the danceable “Should’ve Been Me” to “Francis Forever,” with a chorus of fans singing to every word.
It was a beautiful sight to see so many hanging onto every note, and Mitski reciprocated that love, gesturing and running from one side of the stage to the next — expanding on her stage theatrics from previous tours. At times it appeared as if she was pulling in the energy from the audience to cheers and hands aloft in the shape of hearts.
Watch the official music video of “The Only Heartbreaker” by Mitski on YouTube:
The set included old favorites made new like “Nobody,” “Washing Machine Heart,” the fuzzed out “Townie,” and “Your Best American Girl,” but also new ones like “The Only Heartbreaker” and “Working for the Knife.” With the strobing lights and a brilliant band, Mitski generated an energetic wave that ebbed and crashed with every beat.
After a brief pause, Mitski came back to the stage for an encore of one of my favorites, “Two Slow Dancers,” stopping at the end to tell the audience, “I love you.”
Mitski continues her tour through the UK and Europe. Visit her website for more.
The setlist included:
Love Me More
Should’ve Been Me
First Love / Late Spring
Me and My Husband
I Don’t Smoke
Once More to See You
Drunk Walk Home
Your Best American Girl
I Bet on Losing Dogs
The Only Heartbreaker
Working for the Knife
Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart
Washing Machine Heart
Two Slow Dancers