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Mø Loves L.A. (and L.A. Loves Her Back) at Local Debut: Concert Review

MO Troubadour - P 2014
Chris Godley

The Bottom Line

Mø sings "Don't Wanna Dance," but her moves tell a different story.

Venue

The Troubadour
Los Angeles 
(Wednesday, June 4)

The spirited Danish import brings a Spice Girls cover and unadulterated enthusiasm with a one-hour electropop set that sees her dancing everywhere but the rafters.

Like plenty of electro-pop imports before her, buzzing from a well-received album (March's No Mythologies to Follow), 's first Los Angeles gig at the Troubadour on Wednesday night followed a TV debut just days earlier. The 25-year-old Dane tore up Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday with a rowdy two-song set.

She offered the same raucous stamina during her tight one-hour showing at the venerable West Hollywood club, spent relentlessly prowling the tiny pulpit, scaling bleachers and frequently leaving various perches to be carried around in some well-mannered stage-diving. It wrapped a small stateside tour, and the sold-out crowd would have been content with at least twice as much time with the dynamic singer.

For all of the excitement and approval, it was Mø's (real name Karen Marie Ørsted) apparent elation at the non-Nordic setting that felt most contagious. She and her three-man band all took the stage in shorts, quintessentially summer and poster children for normcore.

The set started out in a fashion similar to her album, the relatively mellow "Fire Rides" and "Maiden" proving a natural crescendo for the grittier efforts -- the Diplo-produced "XXX 88" and "Slow Love" among them. Given her timetable, Mø clung to the more palpitating tracks. And while appearance quickly outed her exertion -- by the time she arrived at breakout track "Pilgrim," her manic head-banging had unfurled her signature braided ponytail into a sweaty unkempt whip -- there were no signs of stress in her voice. 

Mø's voice, a punk-rocker moonlighting at the opera, is easily a highlight of her show. Electronic pretenses should make her music more challenging to translate to a live performance, but she does it easily by compensating with strong pipes and a borderline rebellious relationship with her backing vocals. She never once strayed from one-upping her assets, even as her own giant lips filled the screen behind her -- clips cut together with playfully juxtaposed scenes from an odd roster of films (Disney's Pocahontas, Titanic, dancing Sammy Davis Jr. from god-knows-where and a half-dozen others).

If there is an aesthetic precursor to Mø it is almost certainly Melanie Chisholm (Mel C), of Spice Girls fame. Mø channels the sporty one's '90s heyday both sartorially and in her showy antics. And she would probably welcome the comparison. A self-proclaimed Spice Girls nostalgist, a cover of their 1996 single "Say You'll Be There" is one of her most popular tracks online and she treats it with expected reverence as the first song in her encore.

Wrapping the brief night with the obvious selection, deceptively titled debut U.S. single "Don't Wanna Dance," you couldn't help but lament that Mø didn't have a few more songs in her. It's also a real shame that "Don't Wanna Dance" did not make the powers-that-be's shortlist for song of the summer. With better penetration, it could have been a real contender.

Set list:

Fire Rides
Maiden
XXX 88
The Sea
Slow Love
Pilgrim
Red in the Grey
Dust Is Gone
Waste of Time
Never Wanna Know
Walk This Way
Glass
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Say You'll Be There (Spice Girls cover)
Don't Wanna Dance