Gig Review: Rita Ora at O2 Academy Newcastle

Rita Ora is back with the 'Girls' tour, but is she still a heavyweight pop act? Toby Bryant fills us in...

Toby Bryant
14th May 2018
Image: Toby Bryant

Rita Ora's return to a headline tour has been a very long time coming. It's been six years since the release of her debut album, Ora, but the 27-year-old is still one of the biggest in the game. 

I remember reading an interview with Rita Ora sometime last year, in which she warned off those who were too readily prepared to forget her music career after stints on shows such as The X Factor and America's Got Talent - she's right to do so. Ora has the midas touch, you'll recognise all of the singles she's released since that album, many of which featured on a stellar set.

DJ Fresh collaboration 'Hot Right Now' was a highlight of the night, Rita joining what was a phenomenally loud Geordie crowd for the final chorus. A quick rendition of  Iggy Azalea feature 'Black Widow' and Charli XCX co-release 'Doing It' towards the back end of the set ramped up the anti for a finale of last year's single 'Anywhere'.

The whole night was a show of polished pop and a reminder of the catalogue of hits Ora does have. Newer material did play a part too, with latest single 'Girls' a sugary delight as fans were welcomes on stage, despite the track's current controversy.

The two most stunning moments came from newer songs. The opening track of her forthcoming album, 'Soul Survivor', detailed her struggle with her past, Jay-Z owned, record-label and was an incredibly raw moment in a fun-filled evening. Another came in the late Avicii's feature, 'Lonely Together'. The popstar's evident emotion and struggle with that track so soon after the DJ's passing couldn't be faked and rallied the audience to take over the chorus to help.

This is a popstar who knows what she's doing, that's for sure. However, seven months after seeing Dua Lipa perform her own sell-out tour at the O2 Academy Newcastle, it's hard not to draw comparisons. Lipa is the face of a fresh female wave of pop and her show was powerful in every single moment. At times, Rita Ora just miscalculated a small number of aspects that sees her still catching up after all that time away from music. A slower version of 'RIP' left fans thirsty for the normal chorus, whilst her dancers' flirtation with a cape during new track 'Summer Love' completely took away from what is actually another strong new track.

There's no doubt it'll come though. This is Rita Ora brushing off the rust and getting the gears going again. If this tour is only before the album release, there'll be no stopping Ora when the new record comes.

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