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At Webster Hall, Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson show they are artists in transition, just drastically different ones

Starley, Zara Larsson and Clean Bandit represent the three different appraoches to pop-music. The first, who opened a stellar night of music at Webster Hall in New York City, has a hit in “Call On Me” and is rolling with it. She’s 29, and graceful with the aura of a seasoned veteran. Zara Larsson had her first break on Swedish talent show Talang and now, at just 19, has more platinum singles and 100,000,000 hit videos than most pop-stars ever will. And then there’s Clean Bandit, who’s classical-pop crossover sound has tilted more towards the latter in the past few years.

Zara Larsson

Fans

Clean Bandit

If Friday night proved anything, it’s that pop music is both the most uniform and diverse genre of music. If you hit shuffle on the songs played, it may have been hard to differentiate between the three artists, but knowing their backstories makes it clear that the three acts aren’t the same. Unlike a remix of a song, which starts with the same track and can go different directions, this was like three different starting points that all coincidentally came together in the same way.

Larsson’s set was dynamic, polished and headline ready, and she is clearly balancing between remaining the fresh-faced teenager she first entered the mainstream as and becoming a full-on pop star. While some moves, like naming her debut album So Good, after the lyric “You know my love is so good,” suggest she’s ready to grow up, the album itself features some dull moments that wisely were left out of Friday night’s set. Her best song is probably “Ain’t My Fault,” which almost alludes Rihanna or maybe even Beyonce if you’re open to that, and while it’s not perfect, Larsson deserves praise for having the vocal chops and the confidence to even begin discussion about channeling those acts.

Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson

On stage, she moves well and found a good balance between stepping back to let her dancers shine and reminding the crowd that she was the focus. With a mile-long braid and a TLC-style cargo pants, Larsson was styled to a crisp, but almost still seemed authentic. Zara Larsson is an act in metamorphosis, and if this set was any sort of trial run, she’s almost ready to break out.

The headliners, Clean Bandit, took a hit when founding-member Neil Amin-Smith announced he was leaving the band in October 2016. The violinist and pianist was a forward-facing part of the band, who without him on Friday night spent a lot of the time behind their respective instruments. The band’s hits tend to feature guest-vocalists – Jess Glynne for “Rather Be,” Sean Paul for “Rockabye” and most recently Larsson for “Symphony” – and without a Amin-Smith to remain upfront when Grace Chatto took a backseat to focus on cello or percussion, something felt absent. Of course, the band comes with a slew of touring members, including two vocalists, but it’s not the same.

Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit

“Rather Be,” which closed out the set, is still a great song and “Rockabye” and “Symphony” both sounded great live. Having Larsson available and ready to handle vocals for the new single was a huge benefit. Slower songs, like “Birch,” felt like something was missing and it was almost apparent that the band knew that, too.

On stage, Clean Bandit seem to be at a crux between sticking to their classical-pop band, an electronic act, or something in between. When Chatto is on, she’s a delight to watch, and her center stage dancing brought a huge reaction time after time. The decision to leave songs like “Dust Clears” out of the setlist and highlight poppier tracks like “Real Love” may suggest the future of the band is more pop and less classical, but at the same time it just might take a moment to find a permanent violinist with the same charm as Amin-Smith.

Clean Bandit are, and always will be, a ground-breaking act who managed to make violin and cello cool and brought new sounds into clubs around the world. Larsson is an act just waiting to blow up, and together with Starley, they make up one of the season’s most danceable, talent-filled tours. They continue touring for a few more weeks and you should go. Dates are below.

Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson

Clean Bandit

Zara Larsson and Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit

Upcoming Tour Dates:
4/22 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
4/24 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre
4/25 – Montreal, QB – Le National
4/26 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
5/01 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall
5/02 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues Chicago

Brian Benton
Brian is the founder and editor of Respect Your Youngers. He currently lives in New York City, and previously lived in St. Louis and San Francisco. He enjoys public transportation and coffee, and can be found online at brianfbenton.com

One comment on At Webster Hall, Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson show they are artists in transition, just drastically different ones

  1. Carl says:

    It’s almost tiring having the US sleep on Zara as an artist. “Ready to break out” when she’s played a full wembley arena twice, won best new artist at EMA, most streamed debut album by a woman, 6th most streamed album by a woman, had the most number of accumulated weeks in the charts as a debut in the UK after Lady Gaga’s breakthrough, opened and closed the Euro cup in front of hundreds of millions…
    In many European countries she’s already talked about as a big artist, in context of big American A-listers.
    But in the US she’s “ready to break through”

    Sigh.

Comments are closed.

At Webster Hall, Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson show they are artists in transition, just drastically different ones

Starley, Zara Larsson and Clean Bandit represent the three different appraoches to pop-music. The first, who opened a stellar night of music at Webster Hall in New York City, has a hit in “Call On Me” and is rolling with it. She’s 29, and graceful with the aura of a seasoned veteran. Zara Larsson had her first break on Swedish talent show Talang and now, at just 19, has more platinum singles and 100,000,000 hit videos than most pop-stars ever will. And then there’s Clean Bandit, who’s classical-pop crossover sound has tilted more towards the latter in the past few years.

Zara Larsson

Fans

Clean Bandit

If Friday night proved anything, it’s that pop music is both the most uniform and diverse genre of music. If you hit shuffle on the songs played, it may have been hard to differentiate between the three artists, but knowing their backstories makes it clear that the three acts aren’t the same. Unlike a remix of a song, which starts with the same track and can go different directions, this was like three different starting points that all coincidentally came together in the same way.

Larsson’s set was dynamic, polished and headline ready, and she is clearly balancing between remaining the fresh-faced teenager she first entered the mainstream as and becoming a full-on pop star. While some moves, like naming her debut album So Good, after the lyric “You know my love is so good,” suggest she’s ready to grow up, the album itself features some dull moments that wisely were left out of Friday night’s set. Her best song is probably “Ain’t My Fault,” which almost alludes Rihanna or maybe even Beyonce if you’re open to that, and while it’s not perfect, Larsson deserves praise for having the vocal chops and the confidence to even begin discussion about channeling those acts.

Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson

On stage, she moves well and found a good balance between stepping back to let her dancers shine and reminding the crowd that she was the focus. With a mile-long braid and a TLC-style cargo pants, Larsson was styled to a crisp, but almost still seemed authentic. Zara Larsson is an act in metamorphosis, and if this set was any sort of trial run, she’s almost ready to break out.

The headliners, Clean Bandit, took a hit when founding-member Neil Amin-Smith announced he was leaving the band in October 2016. The violinist and pianist was a forward-facing part of the band, who without him on Friday night spent a lot of the time behind their respective instruments. The band’s hits tend to feature guest-vocalists – Jess Glynne for “Rather Be,” Sean Paul for “Rockabye” and most recently Larsson for “Symphony” – and without a Amin-Smith to remain upfront when Grace Chatto took a backseat to focus on cello or percussion, something felt absent. Of course, the band comes with a slew of touring members, including two vocalists, but it’s not the same.

Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit

“Rather Be,” which closed out the set, is still a great song and “Rockabye” and “Symphony” both sounded great live. Having Larsson available and ready to handle vocals for the new single was a huge benefit. Slower songs, like “Birch,” felt like something was missing and it was almost apparent that the band knew that, too.

On stage, Clean Bandit seem to be at a crux between sticking to their classical-pop band, an electronic act, or something in between. When Chatto is on, she’s a delight to watch, and her center stage dancing brought a huge reaction time after time. The decision to leave songs like “Dust Clears” out of the setlist and highlight poppier tracks like “Real Love” may suggest the future of the band is more pop and less classical, but at the same time it just might take a moment to find a permanent violinist with the same charm as Amin-Smith.

Clean Bandit are, and always will be, a ground-breaking act who managed to make violin and cello cool and brought new sounds into clubs around the world. Larsson is an act just waiting to blow up, and together with Starley, they make up one of the season’s most danceable, talent-filled tours. They continue touring for a few more weeks and you should go. Dates are below.

Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson

Zara Larsson

Clean Bandit

Zara Larsson and Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit

Upcoming Tour Dates:
4/22 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
4/24 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre
4/25 – Montreal, QB – Le National
4/26 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
5/01 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall
5/02 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues Chicago

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