Concert Review

By Duong (Anna) Hong
October 12th 2023
Anticipation hung thick in the air, a palpable energy that seemed to vibrate with every heartbeat. The Neptune Theater, nestled in the heart of Seattle's U-District, was abuzz with eager fans as their collective breath held in anticipation of the evening's star. As a soft, melodic tune began to play, a lone figure emerged from the shadows, bathed in a warm, inviting light. Appeared was Laufey, a 24-year-old Icelandic-Chinese sensation, poised to enrapture hearts.

The opening chords of "Fragile" filled the theater, a delicate serenade that resonated through the hearts of romantics filling every seat, despite the show's initial seated arrangement. With a radiant smile, Laufey encouraged the crowd to rise, setting the stage for an intimate acoustic rendition of "Valentine." What followed was a breathtaking cello performance by the cellist in Laufey’s band. The cello at this point had been a wonderful supporting player to the songs but now took center stage in a short interlude that sounded just absolutely enchanting as the lights once again. The entire crowd was dead silent, eager to listen to what would this unexpected treat would transition to. The cellist who was in the spotlight would return the stage to Laufey but would essentially inststrumentally duet with the singer-songwriter’s vocals  throughout “Second Best.”

With no time to waste after the song though, the pianist played another familiar tune, its keys dancing to life in the enchanting strains of "Dreamer." Laufey's voice, rich with the soul of a jazz singer, filled the space. She cast aside the mic stand, allowing herself to be carried by the music as she acted out parts of the song. In a seamless transition, Laufey picked up her second guitar, infusing a more upbeat bossa nova flair into "Falling Behind." The stage came alive with twinkling lights, creating a magical backdrop that seemed to transport the audience to another realm. Many individuals would remain to stay standing up for the rest of the concert, even moving a bit side to side with the music.

Laufey's musicality extended to the cello as she once was a part of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra herself. She took this opportunity to play and sing on the cello herself on the left side of the stage, her presence illuminated by the spotlight for “Beautiful Stranger” and "I Wish You Love," a sweet testament to her multifaceted artistry.

As she moved to the piano for "Promise," the audience was left in awe of her multi-fauceted musicality. I myself have been to a plethora of concerts and I have never been so emotionally struck down by a song and started tearing up personally. There is something that is so incredibly raw and relatable to the singer-songwriter’s discography which is why she is so successful as not just a performer but an artist.

As the concert pushed on, Laufey played a self-composed interlude, “Nocturne” that interwove elements from different songs from her album. She shared her journey of venturing into songwriting, a testament to her passion and dedication. The stage transformed once more as "Let You Break My Heart Again" filled the space as she continued to play the piano herself. This song in particular had a visual feast made by twinkling lights, glowing light fixtures, blue lights, and more that mirrored the emotional intensity of the song. "California and Me" followed suit, the visuals then adopting a more subdued tone, allowing Laufey's raw vocal talent to take center stage.

With her final guitar in hand, Laufey delivered the hauntingly beautiful "Bewitched," a song that resonated deeply with the audience as the entire crowd once again sang along to it.  "Misty" emerged as another highlight, the stage cloaked in an enigmatic shroud, casting Laufey in shadow and imbuing the performance with cinematic allure that caused the audience to settle down a bit more. With that, Laufey left the stage but of course, fans roared for her to come back for the encore.

For the encore, Laufey took a moment to reflect on her journey, sharing the poignant message: "What I thought were my limitations are reasons why I have my career—your limitations may very well be your strengths." It was a powerful reminder of the transformative potential within every individual. Her song, "To My 13-Year-Old Self," served as a testament to this wisdom. Trying something new, Laufey asked the audience to split into the two. Together, during an extended interlude of “Lovesick” the entire venue harmonized together as one big act to create truly a magical moment as voices echoed throughout the entire space. With the crowd energy high still even towards the end, “From The Start” carried that energy as people sang along, especially when the line “Blah-blah-blah” came up in the song as nearly everyone went ahead and shouted it back to Laufey.

But, as the night drew to an official close, Laufey unveiled a surprise— she would be playing a unique song each show off her discography, as a heartfelt tribute to her love for Jazz and the legendary Chet Baker. "Just Like Chet" was what Seattle was treated with as her final encore song and was the perfect crescendo to a night of musical enchantment.

October 12th marked not just a concert, but a masterpiece—a convergence of jazz, classic, and bossa nova, redefined for a new generation. There was so much care taken into stage direction and Laufey had genuinely put on such an incredible performance and nailed the delivery of every song. Laufey, with her bewitching talent, had left an indelible mark on Seattle, an experience that would linger in the hearts of all who came to this intimate show.