Concert Review: Anna of the North @ U Street Music Hall (4/21/19)

Anna Lotterud (Photo Credit: Jonathan Vivaas Kise)
Anna Lotterud (Photo Credit: Jonathan Vivaas Kise)

Life will work out well if you spend all your Easter Sunday’s with Norwegians.

At least with one in particular. Norwegian singer-songwriter Anna Lotterud, or Anna of the North if you like stage names, smiled often and gave DC an energetic, but still quietly affecting dreampop show at U Street Music Hall on Easter Sunday. Her stage name is rooted in the fact she moved from Oslo to Melbourne, two places that are literally polar opposites*.

During her set, so pleased to be in DC for the first time, she exuberantly offered, ‘I’m fucking excited! Oops, sorry I swore.’ and preceded to look aghast at her transgression.

Anna and her band of two (drums and keyboard) entered amidst the background of flowers accentuated by loud birds chirping. They kicked off with “Moving On”, defined by a heavy beat under an ethereal keyboard and Anna’s dreamy vocals, about how in order to make it through heartbreak, you just need time.

Time we still had, before we had to navigate our own heartbreak when the 14-song set concluded. We made the most of it.

With ‘Money’, Anna busted out a smiling, infectious dance, while attempting to serenade some guy to lose the gold digger and fall for the person that truly loves him. ‘Smiling and Serenading’ works well if someone forced you to describe the theme of the concert. I enjoyed the heady hook floating around the lyrics of ‘Open up, open your eyes my love.’

Anna described the deeply dance-worthy “Feels” as ‘sexy and sad’ yet one of her favorite song to perform live.

Later Anna implored us to sing along to “Leaning On Myself” because it is actually her favorite song, and the crowd obliged with hands in the air for extra credit. I would offer it up as a contender for my favorite song by her as well, as it taps into the beauty of taking solace in yourself when dealing with life. Something we all need from time to time.

Anna’s first and only album, Lovers, came out in 2017. She performed eight songs from Lovers during the set, and the remainder were previous singles plus three new songs. We can only hope the new music foretells of a successful second album.

“Sway” was the first song she ever released (in 2014), and it is expansive in instrumentation, serving both as a primer and a highlight into the heart of her electropop sound and wistful lyrics. Listen now.

Welcome back! They closed out the main set with “The Dreamer”, which speaks to drifting away from someone, when the world doesn’t revolve around that person anymore. Since the show was ending, we were drifting away ourselves into our lives outside the show, only to come floating back for the encore.

They ‘pretended’ to exit the stage, and after ducking (aka how to be invisible) and a healthy beat of silence, Anna jumped back up, smiling of course, to work in the new “Thank Me Later”, a song that hadn’t been released yet. They closed with “Fire”, and Anna stepped down into the delighted crowd and showcased her many talents with a few Norwegian dance moves (strictly appropriate for Easter).

Speaking of theatrical elements, Anna of the North left the dazed and still dancing crowd and wrapped arms together with her band for a series of proper stage bows, never shying away from the smiling and serenading. The Uhall crowd was smitten (presumably).

I’m giving you some homework now that you’ve listened to “Sway”. Give “Leaning On Myself” a try and then find the best way to pick up a copy of Lovers.

Setlist
Moving On
Money
Always
Feels
Oslo
Used To Be
Leaning On Myself
Baby
Sway
Lovers
Someone
The Dreamer

Encore
Thank Me Later
Fire

* Close enough. Australians do enjoy a good pun.

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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