10th December | O2 Academy
Photos: Naomi Williams
The story of Mabel is one that is still very much unravelling. Being the daughter of 90s trip-hop star, Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer, Cameron McVey was bound to bring out her musical side, but her output certainly differs from theirs. She revels in being the queen of sunny tropical pop bangers. Take club-ready ‘Ring Ring’ by Jax Jones and the dancehall bop of ‘Cigarette’ with the chart-ready twosome of Stefflon Don and RAYE.
Joining her tonight was Australian rocker, RUEL, who drew a mammoth cheer from the crowd despite only being the support. But he showed the promise of a future headliner, with the raw, powerful vocals of the commanding song ‘Dazed and Confused’. The 2018 ARIA Award winner wasn’t the first act you would consider to kick-start the show but RUEL delivered an overwhelmingly upbeat start.
On top of the mounting number of collaborations with high-profile artists, the reissue of her mixtape Ivy & Roses has catapulted Mabel back into the public eye. Going straight in tonight with ‘One Shot’ she looked completely at ease, strutting around in a baby-pink hoodie with two dancers swinging by her side.
She never held back, for instance ‘Take It All’ served as an Adele-style pop ballad, only electrically charged with thunderous drums and crashing cymbals. Mabel doesn’t wallow in the personal tracks, she takes the big emotions in her stride and spins them into colossal tunes that women across the nation can relate to, sing along to and dance to. She celebrates this, belting out “turn your back on me, baby, turn your back on me;/ You should know better than to fuck with me,” and of course the largely female crowd sang back her words, empowered by her chant.
Despite throwing in a nostalgic medley of Usher single, ‘U Remind Me’ and Ne-Yo’s very own ‘So Sick’ midway, that wasn’t the biggest trick she had up her baby-pink sleeves. Surprisingly, it was the newer material that packed the biggest punches. The first taste of her upcoming debut was a track called ‘Bad Behaviour’ that sounded like it had the potential to propel her to the dizzying heights of Dua Lipa. If that one hinted at future greatness, ‘Don’t Call Me Up’ sounded like Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ on steroids, fed through a reggae filter. It was these moments where she was most animated and it came through during the energetic choreography.
But how can we forget the hits that got her selling out shows across the UK? Shouting out “Bristol, are you there?” she launched into ‘Ring Ring’ the Jax Jones-produced single that shook booties worldwide and fired her straight into every club in the country. Despite not having Not3s to accompany her, she nailed ‘My Lover’ and ‘Finders Keepers’ effortlessly. She possessed all the assured swagger and controlled confidence of Beyoncé at Coachella, yet never let her natural warmth and attention to the audience falter.
It was endearing to see a young female artist thrive in the early stages of her career. With her debut album still to come, the Swedish singer has proven she isn’t just famous from her feature slots. Make no mistake, Mabel is nobody’s side chick.
See the video for ‘One Shot’ here: