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Lykke Li's Love Songs Slow Burn At The Apollo Theater

Lykke Li has been on tour in support of her new album I Never Learn. The songstress' third studio LP is the refined close to a trilogy of booming beats and broken melodies. The songs are inspired by heartbreak, loneliness and regret - but not one part of us regrets catching Lykke Li Live at Apollo Theater in New York City. The 80-minute long set had all kinds of emotions rippling throughout the audience. Harlem's historic venue is known for presenting out of this world showmanship in the 80-plus years it's been active. Compared to the power performers (Marvin Gaye, James Brown) that have graced the stage at the timeless venue, the pop songstress may seem delicate. However, the torch anthems on her album beg to differ. She may not have had the crowd jumping and screaming but she definitely had them under her spell.

All 1500 seats in the theater were full but as Li  graced the stage through a smokey fog the room fell silent. All the anticipation was released when she sang the first note of the title track "I Never Learn." With a great entrance Li wasted no time diving into her new material which pleased die hard fans of the singer and intrigued those only familiar with her more beat-driven work. Li faced the daunting task of weaving her strung out orchestrations through a crowd that didn't necessarily know what to do with the singer's performance approach - which is facing the audience dead center, shamelessly revealing her open wound.  The singer was instructive and guided fans when they didn't know how to behave "I have to admit, my new album is a bit of a bummer," she said jokingly. "So you can sit for this next song." Referring to the album's second single "Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone," which she delivered with a vocal maturity many didn't know she possessed. The crowd stayed seated, totally focused on Li's delivery.

Performing tracks from Youth Novels and Wounded Rhymes, Li made her progression very clear, particularly in the song "Never Gonna Love Again" which she dedicated to anyone in the audience with a broken heart. The '80s-style power ballad created scenic imagery that left the crowd merely watching. A boomier single from the album "No Rest For The Wicked" came early on in the set, preparing the audience for the heavyhearted "Gunshot" which effectively pierced the soul. By the time Li got to classic hits like her debut "Little Bit" or "I Follow Rivers" the crowd couldn't help but come to their feet, feeding off of her energy and groove. "I Follow Rivers'" red flash poured into "Rich Kid Blues" which used the vocal intro from Beyoncé & Jay Z's "Drunk In Love" (if you're familiar with Li's live performance you know she used to incorporate a cover of A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It"). "Youth Knows No Pain" also got some hip-hop treatment with Kanye West's "Send It Up" and it all concluded with "Get Some."

The Apollo Theater proved a fitting venue for Lykke Li because her music is communicated not only through the amazing sound but also the epic imagery she creates through her words - which we're fine watching from a seated position like a feature film. After the final number, of course, fans wanted more and Lykke Li delivered, setting the melancholy mood with a song she says is quite sensual - "Du Är Den Ende" from the film Tommy. She then effortlessly wrapped everything up with "Sadness Is A Blessing" a cheeky track off of Wounded Rhymes that actually gives us some closure. Lykke Li's voice will continue to cut through smokey fog and flashing lights as the tour goes on. If Li can hold her own at The Apollo, you can imagine that she killed it on the outdoor stage playing a few songs on Jimmy Kimmel Live. As always Li was able to communicate her emotions to the audience with "No Rest For The Wicked" and "No One Ever Loved" from The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack which some say is this generations Breakfast Club. Check out some live footage from The Apollo show as well as her performance on Kimmel below.