Credit: Olivia Rodrigo Insta

Review: Olivia Rodrigo at the Hydro

By Jack Murray

A rising star stops off in Glasgow on their hotly anticipated first arena tour – not a bad idea, right?

As candles spelling out GUTS slowly wither on a stretching LED screen, anticipation is in the air. It is this type of audience expectation, alongside a prevailing assumption of being a one album wonder, that can make a sophomore tour a rather precarious position for an artist. Yet in her follow-up to 2022’s SOUR Tour, Olivia Rodrigo makes walking the tightrope of relevancy look effortless. 

This is seen from the striking entrance she makes as the last candle dwindles and the house lights go out, leading into a black and white horror-inspired short film soundtracked by a rock-infused extended intro to “Bad Idea Right?. Like all horror films, the dramatic tension reaches fever pitch as she knocks on the enigmatic door, finally appearing on stage to a rapturous reception. The intensity remains for the ensuing rock ballads, “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl” and “Vampire”, with the latter highlighting the vocal prowess that has propelled Rodrigo to stardom within a few short years, after which the tempo slows for debut album hits “Traitor” and “Driver’s License”. True to the tour title, Rodrigo begins to spill her guts to the audience in a show of confidence unprecedented for a 21-year-old, still relatively unfamiliar with touring arenas.

“Teenage Dream” and “Pretty Isn’t Pretty” function as transitory songs between the first and second acts, focusing on her insecurities about growing older and conforming to feminine expectations. Narrative guile is evident through this juxtaposition with the unapologetic opening. “Love is Embarrassing” and “Making the Bed” follow, before the night’s set piece in the form of a crescent shaped moon accompanied by an array of stars descended from the ceiling. Rodrigo went on to perform “Logical” and “Enough for You” from within the audience, making a 180-degree tour of the lower bowl and allowing for an intimate moment with the whole arena – an unexpected turn, making the gig special for even those in the nosebleeds.

After descending from the moon, “Lacy” begins the third act in a somewhat bittersweet fashion. However, the immediacy of new setlist addition, “So American”, juxtaposes this as a momentarily positive payoff to some of the other relationship-centric songs. Unfortunately this positivity proved to be fleeting, as the infectious bassline of “Jealousy, Jealousy” swelled to emanate from the speakers as a form of emotional foil. “Happier”, “Favourite Crime” and “Déjà Vu” continued a streak of songs from her debut album focused upon her ruminations of how she is perceived by others. Similar themes appear in “The Grudge”, which closes out the third act by allowing for a contrast of Rodrigo’s two eras and counting, and how her self-reflection and lyrical skill set has evolved.

There wasn’t much time for reflection, however, as the punk rock beat of “Brutal” opened the final act, creating a sharp turn of tempo to set the tone for the rest of the show. “Obsessed” quickly followed as a highlight of the latter half of the show – no mean feat for a bonus track still unreleased when the tour began in Palm Springs only a few months ago. “All American Bitch” closed out the main set in a defiant, guitar heavy, show of self-acceptance after confessing all of her insecurities to the audience. The show couldn’t be over however, without the instant classic of “Good 4 U” followed by a rendition of “Get Him Back!” sung through a megaphone as encore to round off an immensely satisfying concert.

Putting on a show anything but anti-climatic, filled with precisely measured emotional beats, next time Olivia Rodrigo won’t have a tricky time getting me back at all.


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