Rita Ora: Phoenix World Tour – Concert Review

I’m a fan of Rita Ora (28) since her breakthrough back in 2012 with her debut single R.I.P. I enjoyed listening to her debut album Ora and to all her older singles when I was 16.  After 6 years she finally released her 2nd studio album Phoenix last year in November. Her new music and her singles from this album couldn’t really convince me but I still couldn’t stop streaming some songs. I definitely count to my favorite tracks: Only Want You, Cashmere and Soul Survivor. With the announcement of her Phoenix World Tour last Fall me and my twin sister got very excited to experience her finally live. But we also had high expectations for her since she became a worldwide famous artist since 2012.

On the 29th of April, she came to Zurich to perform in Halle 622. It’s definitely not the biggest venue in Zurich but it was also preferred by other artists like Zara Larsson, Alan Walker and 5SOS. The standing tickets coast 65 CHF each, it’s a pleasant price. The door opening was at 6.30 p.m. my sister and I went earlier on purpose to be closer to the stage. At 5.45 p.m. we were standing in the queue and could gather a standing place in the sixth row. One thing we noticed about the audience was that a lot of people had their roots in the Balkans, especially there were many Albanian and Kosovan fans. It wasn’t surprising for us since Rita Ora was born in today’s Kosovo and has Albanian parents.

Support Act: Moss Kena

Rita took the London based R&B / Soul singer Moss Kena (21) on tour. He was a new name for me. I checked out his music on Spotify before the concert and couldn’t really enjoy his sound. But when he performed his songs live, he sounded much better than on audio. He enchanted us with his incredible vocal range, high notes and falsettos. He put a lot of emotions and technique in his performance. His sympathy was adorable the only thing I have to criticize is his look. He was dressed too casually, he looked stylish but for a performance, in front of three thousand people, I expected more glamour. During his set, he told us how he was co-signed by Kendrick Lamar after Kendrick recognized Kena’s cover of his song These Walls. After the thirty minutes with Moss Kena, I can say that I became a fan.

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Rita Ora’s Performance

Moss Kena left the stage at 8.30 p.m. we all expected Rita Ora at 9 p.m. as usual, but the diva let us wait for an hour. The entire crowd got impatient and shouted her name several times but there was still no Rita Ora anywhere. The waiting conditions were very bad the ventilation was insufficient. Mostly the staff distributes water cups to the people standing in the front rows but there was no hydration provided at this concert. At 9.30 p.m. Rita finally went on stage and opened the show with the soundtrack For You. She wore a long metallic-colored coat, which reflected the colors under the light. For her stage decoration, she used two giant rectangular shaped lightning frames one on the top and the other in the background. There were also many disco balls located on the stage floor. Her band was located on the top of three stairs. Her stage design was unique and created an adequate atmosphere to party with her. She continued her first set with her hit singles Your Song, Doing It and Only Want You. During Doing It she asked us to get loud for Charli XCX and I really thought that Charli will be on the stage as a surprise guest artist, unfortunately, Rita just wanted to honor her. I must also say Only Want You sounds better on audio; she didn’t sing the high vocals in the chorus live. Then she went backstage for a quick costume change and came back in tight sportswear and I was just disappointed. Artists definitely shouldn’t perform in sportswear at concerts.

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While performing Girls, which is actually a collaboration with the artists Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX, she took a gay flag from a girl in the audience and used it as a cape and waved it around several times. She even held it in her hands until the end of this set. Most fans haven’t realized it yet but with this single Rita Ora came out as bisexual. Girls got a lot of backlash for fetishizing bisexual women but Rita says that this song represents her story and her truth. For Girls, she also had a choreography with her two back vocalists. She finished her second set with Let You Love Me, she told us that it’s her favorite song to perform because she loves how her fans sing along. However, she mostly just danced and walked around instead of singing it. She even forgot the word again in the first verse where she should have sung “I start running again”. Instead of singing it or in this case not letting us know that she has forgotten this single word, she said: “I don’t know the word”. Fortunately, she could remember the next line immediately and keep singing.

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Hell Of Life was another disappointing performance in my eyes. Rita’s vocals were not powerful enough but she saved the performance with her high notes sung now and then. Her back vocalists didn’t even dance synchronous, it just seemed unprofessional. During I Will Never Let You Down she just sung the verses and walked around during the chorus. She started the new set with a glamorous black dress, it was the one costume I’ve been waiting for. It was definitely her best costume of the night. Rita took us back in time and performed her debut single R.I.P. During Black Widow Rita tried to twerk and it just didn’t look good, she can’t twerk, she tried it too hard. Afterward, she surprised me when she sang Body On Me. I wasn’t expecting this song on her setlist, it’s one of my favorites, an incredible collaboration with Chris Brown. Then Rita also introduced and performed Carry On, her newest single with Kygo, while singing she went down to the crowd and interacted with them. This was a lovely moment for everyone. Before the great final, she turned the hall into a club with her dance tracks Hot Right Now and Coming Home. Rita closed her show with two of her most-streamed singles Lonely Together and Anywhere.

All in all, the setlist was disappointing for me. She performed many of her radio hits but she only sang 18 songs and the concert lasted only an hour. Rita definitely could have sung more tracks from her debut album Ora, she only performed two songs of it. Her debut album has so much more to offer. I actually expected a 90-minutes show with maybe 22 songs. Her live overall performance was also disappointing. She mostly just sung the verses of the songs and during the chorus, she danced to her playback vocals. Even though she had two female back vocalist she used a lot of playbacks. Her dancing didn’t seem professional to me as well, it was rather improvised and not rehearsed. I also felt a lack of personality; she didn’t have any personal or emotional empowering speeches. Then I realized that this is her style and her music. She has mostly no lyrical depth in her lyrics but I think we still love to dance and sing along to her radio bangers because they make us feel good. I guess I love Rita Ora on audio and in her music videos but not on a live stage. It was my first Rita Ora concert, maybe she just had a bad day or had some unknown vocal issues. I don’t want to say that her concerts are not worth it but her performance in Zurich wasn’t. I actually wanted to see her live again this summer at the Montreux Jazz Festival but now I have to think about it again. If you have seen Rita Ora live on her Phoenix World Tour tell me your experience in the comment section. Check out my Instagram for some concert videos.

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