M.I.A. Royal Oak Music Theater. 7.20.13.
Setlist [♪]: (this is approximate)
Only 1 U
Bring the Noize
Bucky Done Gun
Story to Be Told
Favorite Song Performed: Boyz
Least Favorite Song Performed: n/a
Sound Check Length/Wait Time: n/a
Set Design: ★★★★★
Crowd energy: ★★★★★
Band Energy: ★★★★★
Sound Quality: ★★★★
“M.I.A. M.I.A. M.I.A.” The crowd chants her name. It is dark in the theater. We wait. Then we hear her voice, singing. She finally walks onstage. Everyone screams and somehow more people squeeze in impossibly close, just to be nearer to her. The beat drops. She waves her golden-tasseled fan and masterfully whips her hair around. She is nimble in her hot pink jumpsuit, like a safari explorer jumping up on the speakers, perched above the crowd. At one point she steps to the edge of the stage and the audience nearly envelops her. Hands reach up attempting to touch her. A Red Wings baseball cap ends up on her head. She wears it for a moment, then hands it back.
And somewhere in this crazed reverie, somewhere in the audience, I am dancing. And this is a revelation because I don’t dance. I am known to be that person standing off to the side with my arms crossed. Maybe, just maybe I will tap my foot. But M.I.A. changed me. My arms went up, I moved, I danced. I didn’t have much of a choice with the people surrounding me, so close, everyone jumping, swaying, moving, smiling. And then of course there is M.I.A.’s music, her techno-rap-dancehall-hip-hop explosion with its tempting beats.
In the center of the stage, the illuminated letters of the word “Matangi” hang from the ceiling. It is the name of M.I.A.’s upcoming album, but also the name of a Hindu goddess. Even more, it is M.I.A.’s real name, Mathangi, minus the H. Decorating the rest of the stage are huge circular cutouts. They look like ferris wheels. They flash purple, blue, green, yellow ̶ a backdrop of rainbow mandalas. Beams of light shine from the stage. A dancer dressed in bright red contorts to the beat. With the frenetic undulation of the crowd, the bright lights, and the pulsing rhythms, the show was a wild carnival dream.