At Lizzo’s Sydney Show, We Were All 100 Percent That Bitch

Lizzo gave us a long, warm hug when we most needed it.

Lizzo sydney opera house photo

If you had hopped on the Sydney Opera House website last November in the hopes of casually purchasing a ticket to see Lizzo, you would have gotten a rude surprise.

Roughly 12,000 people were ready and waiting in a queue when pre-sale tickets were released on Wednesday, November 20 — that’s more than double the capacity of the Opera House. The following day, when general release tickets went on sale, the same thing happened again.

The demand was staggering, and tickets quickly appeared on dodgy reselling sites like Viagogo for ridiculous amounts — a ticket for her Forum show in Melbourne was on sale for $19,000. Not bad for an artist that most people wouldn’t have heard of 18 months ago.

It goes a little way to explaining why, when she arrives on stage at the Sydney Opera House in a glittering black and silver bodysuit, her long hair whipping around her courtesy of the industrial fans at the front of the stage, the crowd’s screams could have sent the roof flying into Kirribilli House. Everyone was just happy they made it through the bloody queue.

She didn’t muck around before giving the crowd what they wanted: the self-love anthem ‘Good As Hell’ bounded out first, followed by the sultry ‘Cuz I Love You’, which gave her the opportunity to show the audience that yes, her voice really is that bitch. She even twists in a little run of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ for the hell of it.

Lizzo at the Sydney Opera House. Photo Credit: Daniel Boud

There’s a clear theme to tonight’s proceedings, the same one that runs through all of Lizzo’s music: relentless, positive, shining self-love. Lizzo’s catapult journey to fame in 2019 was built on it — in a a year in which everything seemed to crumble a little more, to get a little more dark, Lizzo’s brand of radical self-acceptance and positivity found a ravenous audience.

We needed someone to tell us that we were enough, that we were going to be okay, that regardless of size or colour or orientation or anything, we deserved love. Lizzo told us all that, and made us dance at the same time.

The inside of the Opera House feels small for the occasion — it’s a pity they didn’t upgrade it to a forecourt show, considering the demand — with everyone on their feet twisting and jumping and yelling for the duration. At one point, Lizzo has to stop talking as the audience drowns her in in a ‘LIZZO’ chant as they wave their arms up and down as if praying to a higher power. Which, in a way, they are.

Lizzo whips it up: “Everybody deserves to be loved, and everybody deserves self-love,” she tells us early on, before leading the crowd through chants of ‘I deserve love’ and ‘I deserve to love myself as much as Lizzo love Lizzo’.

“You know what I’m all about,” she continues. “Body positivity and self-love, and being 100 million percent that bitch.” To which the crowd promptly loses its shit.

Photo Credit: Prudence Upton

It would feel trite if it didn’t feel so good. It would have been an impossible task to find an audience member that wasn’t smiling or hurling themselves around with abandon to ‘Tempo’ or ‘Juice’ or the highlight ‘Boys’. Every move from Lizzo prompts screams, whether she’s dropping forward and twerking in our faces or simply walking across the stage flicking her hair, smiling at the front row.

“This is a celebration,” she tells us at one point. “Of booty.” More screams.

There’s a sobering background to tonight’s show, however, as the country suffers through one of the worst natural disasters of our time. It doesn’t go unaddressed by the singer.

“I just want to let you know, more than my heart going with you, am with you. I am with you every step of the way.”

“I feel so connected to you guys right now during these bushfires that are plaguing your nation and destroying wildlife and animals and homes,” she says during a break in tracks late in the show, clutching a small stuffed kangaroo and an Australian flag. “And I just want to let you know, more than my heart going with you, am with you. I am with you every step of the way.

“I’m donating, we’re all donating. Because I know that this is nice, to come here. We’ve been looking forward to this show, anticipating this moment. And unfortunately this is such a tragic time, and I couldn’t not reflect the times. Because I’m an artist. And that’s what artists do. They speak up for the people.”

“This is not just an Australian crisis, this is a global crisis, affecting the whole world,” she continued. “The things that are happening here are happening all around the whole world. We can feel so disconnected at times. We can seem so far away from each other. But this is the one Earth.”

The speech is genuine, and affecting.

After bringing out her ‘Sasha Flute’ — an homage to Beyoncé’s alter ego Sasha Fierce — for an impressive solo run, Lizzo dons a wedding veil for the bouncing closer ‘Truth Hurts’, six thousand voices joining her on every line. Tonight, we are all 100 percent that bitch.

Jules LeFevre is the editor of Music Junkee. She is on Twitter

Photo Credit: Prudence Upton