A night of anthemic pop and R'n'B-fuelled hysteria
Sarah Thomas
17:11 13th December 2018

Strobe lights start to flicker on the final night of Mabel’s UK tour as the pounding beats of ‘One Shot’ begin to pulsate through a sold-out Brixton Academy. Strutting on stage with a legion of dancers, Mabel croons “I’ma make one stop for you for you” sparking all 4,921 of her admiring fans to dance as she moves across the stage with ferocity. Each step in her gem encrusted playsuit and silver boots has the audience gyrating along with her, as she transforms the venue into a girls night out filled with glamour and prowess.

Still in the formative stage of her career, the 22 year-old might appear as an overnight success, but the singer-songwriter has spent years working behind the scenes to be standing on this stage tonight. Choosing to pave her own route rather than utilising the connections of her parents (90s singer Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey), Mabel has earned every accomplishment in her own right making her headline tour that much sweeter.

Reminiscing back to her first sell-out venue of 500 people, the star bellows, “this is my dream venue and we fucking sold it out, you have no idea how much this means to me”. Her feeling of awe only fuels her performance further as her vocals sound slick and honeyed through every note with nothing more than keys, drums and back-up singers to create the reverie of her triumphant live sound. 

Following what feels like a continuous stream of entrancing pop anthems, the set moves into a soulful mash-up of Ne-Yo’s ‘So Sick’ and Usher’s ‘U Remind Me’. Shining the light on her R’n’B influences, the singer’s re-imagining of the songs effortlessly fit into the set without feeling like a cheesy flashback to the 90s.

Amongst the surplus of setlist hits are two unreleased songs featuring lyricisms of post-break-up power, as flames blast to the words “don’t call me up”. Each new track smacks with as much fervour and euphoria as her charting singles, reasserting that she’s cracked the code to infectious pop and R’n’B songwriting.

Dialling down on her resilient front, Mabel opts for a moment of sincerity as she explains: “I wanna sing a new song about anxiety. It’s a bitch right, but we’re not going to let it control us. I decided to write a song about being ok with your bad moments.” As phone torches light up a starry spectacle, the singer’s heartfelt serenade resonates amongst her younger fans just as much as their elders, establishing her as more than an R’n’B artist but an important role model for young women. 

Plunging straight back into her intoxicating hits, rapper Not3s bursts onto the stage to a roar of screams for their collaboration ‘My Lover’. As ‘Fine Line’ climaxes, Mabel erupts into a fiery dance break before swishing her long locks off stage. 

After a healthy hour-long set, the singer returns for her global hit ‘Finders Keepers’ setting the crowd into one last passion-fuelled dance as it sways in ecstasy. Wanting to catch a closer glimpse of the singer, fans spill onto the stairs and frolic freely unable to be kept under wraps by guarding security. Its undeniable that this singer’s persistence and talent has finally shot her to a status she deserves. Yet, tonight has revealed under the danceable tracks is an artist ready to unleash earnest and empowering songwriting. It appears we’ve only just touched the surface of what this powerhouse has to offer.

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Photo: Lauren McDermott