Angèle put the pink lighting system at The Warfield to good use during the San Francisco stop of her “Nonante-Cinq” tour. Throughout the show, the 27-year-old Belgian artist proved capable of orchestrating energetic and hyped-up performances with ease. Her signature uplifting spirit was only accentuated by the crowd’s excitement.
Posed underneath a bright pink spotlight, Angèle opened her set with “Plus de Sens,” a track from her most recent album. As a building synth beat amped up the venue, it proved to be a fitting choice for the first song of the evening. Angèle’s stellar backup dancers added another dimension to the already ecstatic “Pensées Positives,” which translates to “positive thoughts.” As the crowd sang along to lyrics like, “We must stay strong, we remember everything/ And let’s be realistic, the world is ours,”(translated from French), the first fifteen minutes of the concert set fans up for an upbeat night.
The visual concepts that structured the concert were almost as striking as the music itself. The show began with a projection of a roller coaster speeding through a psychedelic theme park filled with purple clouds and rainbows, stopping when it arrived at a massive image of Angèle’s face. During the more moody songs in the setlist, the roller coaster returned — except, it had transformed into a decaying contraption tangled with vines, reminiscent of Halloween cartoons.
A roller coaster is an apt way to describe a night with Angèle. Her music takes listeners on a ride through potent emotional landscapes, ranging topics from love to the feminist movement in France. Reflections on the more sorrowful parts of life are balanced with joyful lyrics about self-love and acceptance. Her music, sung largely in French with some English mixed in, has a universal appeal.
At times, the beats and melodies of each song sounded increasingly alike. It was difficult to tell when one track ended and another began, and full creative expression seemed to submit itself to a recreation of Angèle’s image. Though large-scale pop concerts demand this sort of unity and precision, it did slip into a sense of predictability.
Nevertheless, Angèle maintains a unique image as a performer. Fast becoming one of the dominant voices in the European pop scene, part of the appeal of her music lies in a sense of positivity that runs through each of her songs. One can easily tell that there is a genuinely kind and thoughtful person behind the lyrics, and her passion for performance is evident.
Angèle’s presence on the global music scene was especially strong during “Fever,” a song she recorded with Dua Lipa in 2020. It marked a turn from some of the earlier songs in the setlist, many of which are more bubbly and upbeat. “Fever,” though still markedly a pop song, is more subtle in sound, but no less driven than the other songs from the night.
One of the most impressive aspects of the show was its length. With over twenty songs in the setlist, at least half of which came with dance numbers, the endurance of Angèle’s spirited energy was almost unreal. The excitement and playfulness that came through in the first song never disappeared. If Angèle considered her work a physical and mental feat, the crowd never suspected it.
The concert closed with one of Angèle’s most famous songs, the feminist pop track “Balance Ton Quoi.” The song title is a riff on #BalanceTonPorc, the French version of the #MeToo movement. With projections raining turquoise balloons and matching choreography, the performance was a standout moment of the night. With its catchy beat and memorable chorus, the song is equally a dance track and an embrace of the freeing aspects of feminism. As Angèle and her dancers cheered the lyrics with the crowd, her message of celebrating uniqueness and differences shone through The Warfield. There couldn’t have been a better way to end the night.