The moment the backdrop showed the title card, “Dua Lipa Presents: Future Nostalgia in Stereocolor,” the audience at the Wells Fargo Center screamed in anticipation. The familiar synth intro of “Physical” began to loop, backed by a live band, as dancers came on the stage one by one. Then the lights turned on, with Dua Lipa at the center spotlight, decked out in a neon bodysuit. At that moment, the crowd went wild. Everyone stood up and jumped with pumped fists, and they wouldn’t be sitting down for the next hour and a half.

Lipa has been a mainstay in pop music since the release of her monumental second album, Future Nostalgia. Spawning six hit singles, including the number–one single in the US in 2021, the record firmly brought back the full–fledged pop era. Lipa continually promoted her album with a flair unseen in her current peers—Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande for example, who've transitioned to surprise releases or short album cycles.

The pandemic prevented the quarantine queen from touring the album and giving the recognition the dance–pop, 80s–inspired record deserves. Back in 2020, she organized a live–streamed concert, Studio 2054, to support her album, which drew over five million viewers. But finally, after two years of delays, Lipa brought her Future Nostalgia tour in–person to Philly, complete with her high fashion, staple pop hits, and well–crafted stage presence.

Photo: Derek Wong

Before Lipa even entered the stage, opening acts Lolo Zouaï and Caroline Polachek were able to hype up the crowd. Zouaï brought her unique style of electro–pop and R&B, singing songs from her debut album, High Highs to Low Lows. Likewise, Polachek introduced the crowd to Pang, her critically acclaimed project filled with indie and experimental flavor. This female–fronted opening set the stage for Lipa, ensuring that femininity and strength were the themes of the show. 

By the time the main headliner appeared onstage, the excitement was palpable. Complete with an army of dancers, Lipa started the night with the club banger “Physical,” and the crowd chanted all the words of the climactic song, perfectly setting the tone for the night.

From there, Lipa sped through hits like “New Rules” and “Love Again,” the former complete with a backdrop of “Welcome to Philadelphia” reminiscent of the "New Rules" music video. She brought out the roller skates for “Cool,” took us under the sea to perform “We’re Good” with a life–sized lobster, and danced sultrily to the heat–inducing “Fever.” Every song was strategically placed to carry the momentum from one to the next without losing any intensity.

As the songstress worked her way through the stage, she showed her fierce personality and notably improved dance skills. In “New Rules” and “Break My Heart,” Lipa took the liberty to add a tightly–choreographed dance break to the delight of the crowd. When she reworked her infamousOne Kiss” dance into her “Don’t Start Now” choreography, the audience roared, knowing that she was no longer just a pretty face, but a force to be reckoned with. Lipa has always been a talented star, but this time, the public finally caught up.

Photo: Derek Wong

In fact, the entire night could be described as Lipa commanding the crowd to dance. Playing all 11 songs from her sophomore album, two songs from the Moonlight Edition, and a few from her self–titled debut, Lipa got the crowd moving to her songs layered with her authoritative lyricism. “New Rules” was iconic for its three–step plan of getting over an ex, and “Don’t Start Now” was perfect meme material during the COVID-19 pandemic for its timely lyrics. In concert, these lyrics become chants and mantras, deepening Lipa’s emotional connection to the audience.

Speaking of audience connection, the singer didn't shy away from expressing her thanks to the city. In “Be the One,” she initiated a fan chant to the song that kickstarted her career, with the entire arena echoing “I can be the one.” “Good In Bed,” an album track about getting that “good pipe in the moonlight,” became the crowd–favorite when Lipa interacted with the audience. She even called a fan by name, clearly recognizing his face as a long–time supporter amongst the crowd. The way she connected with the audience felt friendly and filled with gratitude, but she also made sure not to take herself too seriously. After all, this was a dance party, and Lipa was the star host.

But the best parts of the night were the quieter ones. In a setlist with no official ballad, Future Nostalgia closer “Boys Will Be Boys” and Elton John–assisted “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix)” became the tender crowd–singalongs. As Lipa showcased her signature husky vocals, we were reminded of why she's such a star. She was able to transcend generations to create an experience for all to enjoy. Both young and old sang their hearts out, the sold–out arena was filled with a sea of phone flashlights, and everyone was on their feet.

Photo: Derek Wong

Lipa has already played what is essentially a greatest–hits show, but she saved her biggest ones for the end. She sang “Levitating” while literally levitating above the crowd and then joined her dancers in perfectly synced choreography. After vanishing for a brief moment, Lipa reappeared with a forceful rendition of “Future Nostalgia,” complete with hair–whipping and rock–star glam. “Don’t Start Now” served as the closer of the night, a triumphant finish for the British pop star who’s ready to do it all over again on the next stop of her tour. 

The Future Nostalgia tour was a pop show that we desperately needed now. Not only did Lipa give it her all, but she also showed that she’s a performer with big ambitions and even bigger plans in store. If anyone doubted Lipa’s longevity at the start of the concert, they surely left with a strained voice after shouting every lyric along with a packed crowd. At the end of the night, we have every reason to believe that she “did a full 180” to become the current “female alpha” of pop.