Dua Lipa delivers dance-pop euphoria at Little Caesars Arena

The singer brought the hits, which brought happiness to the sold-out crowd in Detroit on Friday night.

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Dua Lipa struck a fine balance between past, present and future Friday night at Little Caesars Arena, burning through a high energy, tightly choreographed set of dance-pop bops in front of a lively, sold-out crowd. 

It was the 26-year-old British singer's first major concert in Detroit, and she worked the stage like a seasoned veteran, singing, dancing and dominating her way through her 18-song setlist and keeping the mood buoyant and bouncy throughout. The 90-minute show was part '70s roller disco — several of her dancers donned roller skates and spun around the stage like they were born to roll — and part trip to the cosmos, all encased inside of a heart-shaped mirror ball. 

The tour stop came on her "Future Nostalgia" tour, named for her March 2020 album, which was released just two weeks into the shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. For Lipa's fans, the album was an escape from the eminent dread of the global health crisis, and Friday's show was a release for both the crowd and for the performer who held center stage throughout the evening. 

"I'm so (expletive) happy to be here tonight," Lipa told the audience of mostly twentysomething groups of gal pals and couples midway through the show. "We've been waiting to put this show on for two years." 

It was a rich production that utilized a main end stage and a smaller stage near the center of the arena, the two connected by a catwalk. Lipa was joined on stage by a team of 10 dancers — they were given their own intro video, complete with credits, at the top of the show — and four backup singers, along with a four-piece backing band, tucked onto the wings of the stage, lowered a half-step below everyone else. 

A large video screen projected images to help set the mood of the songs — a voyage under the sea on "We're Good," and several trips through outer space sprinkled elsewhere — while lasers, confetti canons and a balloon drop gave fans plenty of visuals to binge on. 

Dua Lipa: The Future Nostalgia Tour at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan on February 25, 2022.

But Lipa's confidence and her control of the stage was the best stage trick of the night. She has a sturdy and commanding live presence and never showed the effects of her constant work on the stage; if she was winded at any point, she never let on. She always held the audience's eye while channeling the energy of any number of pop stars past, from Cher to Madonna to Gwen Stefani to Lady Gaga.

In the span of just two albums — "Future Nostalgia" was preceded by her 2017 self-titled debut set — Lipa has amassed a sizable number of smash hits, including seven that have blown past the 1 billion streams threshold on Spotify.

Dua Lipa: The Future Nostalgia Tour at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan on February 25, 2022.

Those songs got a workout on Friday: "New Rules," her breakout hit, was given a sort of "Singin' in the Rain" treatment, with her dancers incorporating umbrellas into their routine; "Levitating" was performed while, well, levitating on a platform that flew over the general admission crowd on the floor; and "One Kiss" was given a full dance party treatment in the center of the smaller stage, while Lipa and her dance crew tossed out balloons and other goodies into the crowd.

Meanwhile "Cold Heart," her current hit with Elton John which interpolates Sir Elton's "Rocket Man," was given a mellow moment, with Lipa and her dancers sitting on the stage, while a taped Elton chimed in via video screen. 

Dua Lipa: The Future Nostalgia Tour at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan on February 25, 2022.

Marks were made to be hit, and the show worked like clockwork; it may have been exactly 90 minutes down to the second, and if it wasn't, that seemed like the goal. That is by no means meant as a knock: for a show that was built like a machine, it functioned like one too, and gave fans a canvas to sing along, to dance, and to let go for a few hours in a world that's not getting any lighter anytime soon. 

Opener "Physical" — go ahead and add Olivia Newton-John to that above list of influences and forebears — set the tone for the night, with Lipa dressed head to toe in a form-fitting fluorescent green catsuit, accented by highlighter heels. "Baby, keep on dancing like you ain't got a choice," she sang, throwing down a gauntlet that both she and the crowd followed like they were orders sent from above. It was plenty to be nostalgic about in the future, but in the present, it was simply a blast.