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Rita Ora, O2 Academy, Birmingham - review and pictures

By Andrew Turton | Music | Published:

Whether it's a media storm over her new song, speculation over her love life or social media chat over her latest look - Rita Ora is never far from the headlines.

Rita Ora at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Pic: Andy Shaw

She is a pop star for the Instagram generation. One where you wonder if it's all style over substance, better to be seen than not.

Camera phones were set to record as she bound onto stage at Birmingham's O2 Academy last night.

Rita Ora at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Pic: Andy Shaw

We were set for a double espresso of a show... With an extra shot thrown in for good measure.

She is only just preparing to release her second album since she burst onto the scene six years ago.

Rita Ora at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Pic: Andy Shaw

Yet her fans were queuing round the block, some of whom had been waiting since 9am to get their spot front and centre.

With the X Factor stints, big screen roles in the Fifty Shades film series and a Brit Awards duet with Wolverhampton's own Liam Payne, her show felt strangely constrained in a concert venue rather than an arena, with just four backing dancers, a projection screen behind and a couple of bizarre routines with a large cape which kept blowing into her and her dancer's face.

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Rita Ora at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Pic: Andy Shaw

But the night was attacked with gusto by the 27-year-old star who stepped on stage in her usual eye-catching style with a white top with tasselled sleeves, matching bottoms and her blonde hair in voluminous waves.

Rita Ora's career has been defined by her power pop collaborations - and Hot Right Now with DJ Fresh had the crowd screaming along with the Iggy Azalea feature Black Widow and Charli XCX co-release Doing It.

Rita Ora at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Pic: Andy Shaw

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A touching moment came when she remembered Avicii, the Swedish DJ who died suddenly last month at the age of 28, as she performed their track Lonely Together.

She performed new song Girls, amid a backlash from LGBTQ musicians on social media, after which she revealed she was bisexual.

Rita Ora at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Pic: Andy Shaw

But the controversy was dispelled by inviting a group of kids plucked from the crowd to join her on stage, ending with a chorus of Happy Birthday sung to one lucky fan.

New song Soul Survivor was debuted in rousing fashion, talking of empowerment against the backdrop of her own boardroom battles against former record company boss, US hip-hop star Jay Z.

Rita Ora at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Pic: Andy Shaw

Praise should be handed to support act Raye whose own collab, You Don't Know Me, with DJ Jack Jones, certainty set to the tone for the night.

Away from all the drama it appeared Rita Ora actually enjoyed her Brummie night out, and her cheering fans definitely think she's Hot Right Now.

Andrew Turton

By Andrew Turton
Digital Journalist

Digital journalist based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton. Interested in breaking news and social media. Get in touch on Twitter @aturton_star or andrew.turton@expressandstar.co.uk

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