Troye Sivan @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 23 Feb
Australian queer icon Troye Sivan brings his Bloom tour to Glasgow for an honest night of pop, and what is likely a formative experience for a lot of tonight's excitable crowd
Glasgow plays host to a young, queer icon tonight as Australian idol Troye Sivan takes over the O2 Academy for one unforgettable, enchanting evening. It’s not just Sivan and his band that the Bloom tour has brought to town – tonight’s crowd has a definite international feel with flags repping all over, from Ireland to South Korea.
Long before Sivan and co are due on stage, the O2's hall and balcony are full, and the excitement and anticipation in the air is palpable – the kind that keeps fans waiting for hours in the freezing cold by a tour bus, or shoved up against the stage foregoing toilet breaks and hydration despite formidable humidity and a severe scarcity of personal space, cheering for roadies and sound level tests. It’s the kind of passion and diligence that is the hallmark of starry-eyed teenage fans; this is a show with an age restriction of only eight years old after all, with the median age probably around 17 (fittingly, the title of a track from Sivan’s latest album). It’s a self-perpetuated mini safe space for young women and LGBTQ+ youth, a space pop music and fandom carves out for itself and completed by the artist. When Sivan finally appears, the audience screams are, without exaggeration, cacophonous and deafening.
The band opens with the aforementioned Seventeen, a dark, danceable track about the pitfalls of queer teenage sexual experimentation and the power dynamics of a May/September hook up. Some technical problem stops Sivan from entering the stage when he should, but like a pro he keeps singing anyway, his apparently disembodied vocals ratcheting the audience anticipation up to 11. When Sivan eventually does appear, dancing as if nothing went wrong, he apologises for his Phantom of the Opera-like entrance.
As much as this may be a formative experience for many in the crowd, it’s an important night for Sivan, too. It’s his younger sister Grace's first gig. This is the first date of touring his brand new sophomore album – the critically-acclaimed Bloom – and the first time performing many of its songs live. It’s also Sivan's first live performance after considerable time in the studio and while it's clear he has nerves, he also has a habit of performing flawlessly followed by telling us how nervous he is afterwards.
It’s this kind of honesty and earnestness that is central to Sivan's intimate live performance. His sound is mid-tempo, dreamy electropop, post-Lorde chillwave with a hint of trip-hop which he crafts succinctly into three minute pop songs that reflect both the personal and political realities of young queerdom. He flits from hip-swerving dancing in oversized suits, to tearjerkers about breaking up and conversion therapy, crooning on a sofa. The set design is minimal, with bright lights flashing colour in tandem to form a synesthesiac disco, only ever breaking synchronicity to form the LGBTQ+ rainbow.
Plum evokes fetid florid beauty but also the fleeting nature of youth ('Even the sweetest plum / Has only got so long'), and Sivan, much like his audience, wants to hold on to this special gig forever. Before his final encore of the rapturous My! My! My!, Sivan promises Glasgow that he’ll be back and implores us to make it the best four minutes of our lives, before the inevitable end of the night. Tonight, Troye Sivan puts his absolute all into forging those precious, transcendent moments with the crowd, those important brief periods of queer freedom that pop sometimes affords us.