Culture, Manchester, Music

Rina Sawayama @ Manchester Academy review and gallery – Get in line! 

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Featured image and gallery: Georgina Hurdsfield


Excitement levels in Manchester Academy were peaking as fans clung to the barrier, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Japanese British singer Rina Sawayama. Following the release of Sawayama’s second album, Hold the Girl, it was only fitting that a UK tour followed suit.

Opening with ‘Minor Feelings’, the first track on the latest album. Rina appeared on stage in a denim cloak and cowboy-style hat. It was at that moment we knew this was going to be a theatrical show. “We only have 90 minutes together, Manchester”, Rina informed the crowd and broke down exactly how the show would go. There was no time to waste. The set was split into four acts, each with a brand-new outfit change. This is something we’ve never seen before at an Academy show, but nevertheless, we loved and appreciated it.

The first act showed off Sawayama’s powerful vocals with four soaring pop-rock tracks from her latest release. Joining ‘Minor Feelings’ was album title track ‘Hold the Girl’, ‘Catch Me in the Air’ and ‘Hurricanes’. Rina was joined on stage by her two dancers in matching outfits. It was a strong start to what was expected to be an incredible performance.

Photography: Georgina Hurdsfield

Rina Sawayama’s live vocals are just unlike any other, dare we say, sounding even better than on the record. Sawayama belts out the most difficult notes flawlessly in each song whilst still managing to keep up with her dance routines, captivating the audience.

Act two was dominated by newer material but with a special appearance of ‘STFU!’ from her debut album. This part of the performance was sassy and packed with female rage. This highly contrasted with act three, which felt more raw and full of emotion as the crowd sang back the lyrics word for word, with ‘Send My Love to John’ clearly being an emotional favourite.

Clearly, the best part of the set for both Rina and her crowd came in act four, featuring a remix of ‘Lucid’ and ‘Beg for You’, as well as fan favourites ‘Comme des garçons (Like the Boys)’ and ‘XS’. This section brought the pure pop hits Sawayama is known and adored for. At this point, we knew tonight would be an unforgettable night for the majority, a safe space to let go and be yourself. It was clear the love between Sawayama and her fans was mutual.

Rina’s performance was well and truly mesmerising. Finishing with an encore of ‘This Hell’, Rina had the crowd in a singing contest as one half chanted “Got my invitation to eternal damnation” with the other half singing back “Get in line, pass the wine, B*tch, we’re going straight to hell”. An exciting way to end the show as Rina brought the crowd together once more.

It was a triumphant performance. Sawayama clearly had a presence too big for the stage of Manchester Academy. Rina Sawayama will soon be headlining arenas and festivals – we look forward to seeing it happen.

About the author / 

Georgina Hurdsfield

Masters student in Psychological Wellbeing in Clinical Practice at Manchester Metropolitan University. Keen photographer and music enthusiast.

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