It’s been six years since Kosovo-born Brit singer Rita Ora released her eponymous debut album and five since she last embarked on a proper large-scale tour, but the fact she’s managed to keep busy through reality television and acting in the Fifty Shades films while an acrimonious legal battle with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label played out is testament to how hard she obviously works at being a still in-development pop icon. Although her second album is still nowhere to be seen, a new song which relates to past legal troubles Soul Survivor (“I made it through the fire / I started out with nothing, I’ve got nothing to lose”) suggested here that a new beginning is imminent.
Rita Ora, Academy, Glasgow, ***
Despite telling us that the choice of venue was optional and not demand-enforced (“I wanted to see you face-to-face,” Ora hollered), it felt somewhat strange to see what’s obviously planned as an arena pop show condensed into a concert venue. Having rather impressively acquired a trenchcoat and minidress patterned in sequinned Bay City Rollers tartan, she and her four dancers – one woman and three men – condensed their moves into the modest space before a backdrop-filling video screen.
Her current anthem to sexual curiosity Girls – complete with a squad of female audience members on stage – and Summer Love, the upcoming single with Rudimental, aside, this was a set which celebrated the hard work and hits which Ora has enjoyed to reach this point.
The evening flourished as it progressed, really kicking in through the wobbly dubstep bass of Black Widow, fun and sexy early hit Hot Right Now, the swooning, epic romance of For You, and finally Anywhere’s oddly downbeat Europop. Lonely Together was presented with a visual tribute to her collaborator on the track, the late Swedish producer Avicii, and also served to link Ora to the kind of generational artist who she may yet become.