AURORA definitely lives up to her name: magical, pure, enchanting, and one-of-a-kind. The 23-year-old mythical Norwegian graced the O2 Institute dressed in an ethereal floating skirt and top ensemble accessorised with a pair of trainers and her trademark platinum bob cut and warrior marks. Stripped back and effortlessly she was greeted to the raucous screams of her Warriors eagerly anticipating to hear her tantalising voice in this intimate affair. Is has been three years since AURORA last performed in Birmingham. The sixth of seven UK shows before heading to Israel and Asia, this show was a masterclass in being true to yourself.
Her Warriors heartfully sung along to the 16 tracks performed. As the light illuminated AURORA, she took centre stage and broke into a mystical rendition of Chruchyard before singing hit singles Runaway and Running With the Wolves and then succumbing to the screams for an encore to finish with Daydreamer. Despite a career only spanning four years, AURORA has proved herself with her impressive vocal range and thrilling angelic accent. Having already been compared to the likes of Florence and the Machine, Björk, and Kate Bush, I can also see elements of Sia within her. The production may have relatively simple production, consisting of predominantly lighting effects, but she didn’t need any frills. Her voice and personality were enough. This is clearly a testament to not only her talent and vocal ability but to who she is herself.
She carries herself with such humility, kindness, grace repeatedly showing her awe and gratitude: “I’m so happy to be here!”. She hasn’t let her fame get to her, nor will she ever let it. She is visibly taken aback by the love and screams of appreciation she is showered with. And it is authenticity that allows her to connect so deeply with her audience as if they were her friends and she has known them all her life. Her remarks “I’m a bit sweaty under my arms” and “Let’s trot along. As you guys say all the time” reveal her sweet and pure nature which were received by pleasant laughter. She pointed to dancers in the balcony, took letters from her fans, and danced with LGBTQ+ flag that was thrown onto the stage during her gay anthem Queendom before returning it.
AURORA is an icon and inspiration for these people. She isn’t shy to talk about gay rights, saving the planet, and mental health having dedicated songs to these. However, she addresses these issues with such emotional sensitivity. In a tender voice before singing I Went Too Far she said “it’s a process, learning how to love yourself. It’s very important. Move towards the love and away from the people that bring you pain. It’s very important”. AURORA is able to spread her message of love and connection in such a uniquely beautifully way: the lightness of her tone is almost fairytale-like allowing people to immerse themselves in her enchanted words.
There is also a beautiful quality in her honesty and comedy, which is perhaps a result of her unfiltered and raw ‘you’re seeing the real me’ and ‘I am who I am’ nature. She is pure, innocent, and vulnerable yet strong and defined in her values. She knows who she is, what image and sound she wants to project, and that’s what she will do. For those familiar with her infamous Triple J interview earlier this year, you will know the conviction with which she carries herself and how she not afraid to say things most would not say.
Within this, you also find a storyteller. She spoke about how she felt “really excited to be getting old. 98 for example. It’s going to be so fun. And attempt rave parties… it’s going to be fantastic” which of course received plenty of laughter. Explaining herself she continued “I don’t know why I thought about it. I was thinking about some old person… he was sitting at a café I was passing today… And he looked like he really enjoyed his life. He didn’t ask for much, he just asked for a cup of coffee and he had a bit of his face in the sun… and he just enjoyed. It’s a nice thing. We must not forget to enjoy these things when we’re still here”. It was in a breathless voice she gave this anecdote which gave it a greater delicate atmosphere as if AURORA was baring her inner soul for us to see. She then proceeded to say “and this next song is also a lot about death and cuz it’s, I don’t know, I think about it. A lot”. She then took a letter from the crowd before saying, “But, yes, back to death… Oooo I forgot now. I was something about it’s there all the time… The next song is more exciting to talk about than our deaths…”. Her ability to juxtapose her enjoyment at the prospect of being old against death is dark humour but the way she does it is simply breath-taking especially given her whimsical yet matter-of-fact stance. AURORA certainly is a one-of-a-kind.
AURORA and her music are certainly otherworldly and magical. Her aura is enchanting and you can’t help but be allured by her personality and voice. Her humility and grounded nature are something to certainly commend in this celebrity day and age. She has proved you can carve your own image, sound, and sing about things you find important and be successful. And in doing this she has the power to move people. That’s what you call art and the power of art. She will certainly be growing in the coming years and is definitely one to keep an eye on.
By Memoonah Hussain