Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power (Live Music Experience Review)

This is something unlike any other, let me tell you that. I know many people have experienced a live music event via streaming services due to lockdowns throughout the entire world, however this event sits somewhere in between a live concert streaming event and a visual representation of the tracks that have been released and how they were envisioned inside Halsey’s brain – limited to a one-night-only extravaganza! Let me start at the very beginning. Halsey (she/they) has always been a pop punk kid and the world has always seen snippets of this in their music that has previously been released, however their style has always leaned more into the pop sector of things. If you ever listened to Nightmare it was very clear that there was a punk just waiting to be unleashed and this is the era that has brought it out with the help of two absolute genius brains Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and if these names seem familiar to some of you, you’d be correct, these are the two same geniuses who are in Nine Inch Nails. Halsey wanted to work with them since the age of 19 and now, 7 years later, their dream came true!

When I signed in to Moment House, a countdown timer was presented and once it hit 10 minutes remaining, it changed to a beautifully designed screen that would count down until the event started. Black, grey, and red coloured gradient with a little bit of a crack as if it were stone that had a red light just hitting it once every so often. Halsey’s signature which is mostly her logo was displayed at the top in the centre and the timer below that. I don’t know how many of you ever played Atmosfear the board game as a kid (terrifying stuff for ten year olds), but the countdown timer was very reminiscent of that to me. It set the tone for the opening song to be performed which was ‘Tradition’. The track is quite an angry one, I believe it to be a feminist song about men being able to do what they want because that is tradition, that is how things have always been from the start and it is visually represented in her facial expressions as you saw the anger yet power and dominance that was being held. The attire that was worn was almost an 18th century style dress, long and to the floor but adorned with lots of lace at the top and puffed up sleeves. With a dark, wooden forest setting behind her, and dancers creeping in, Halsey then changes into her second outfit and kicks off the next two tracks, ‘Lilith’ and ‘Easier Than Lying’.

‘Easier Than Lying’ was performed in a long corridor with strobe lights on either side, dancers behind these screens and Halsey completely let loose in her punk element, headbanging, rocking out in a silk nightgown and Doc Martens, it felt very much like the way that she had performed when rocking out during the ‘Nightmare’ music video. The colours while very flashy, were a typical lighting effect for them to use in a stage performance. She next appears to be laid in a wooden box, with minimal lighting, maybe providing the concept of feeling trapped as she performs ‘You Should Be Sad’ but then hits the ground running once more in a whirlwind of rainbow coloured lights in yet another outfit to perform ‘Girl Is A Gun’. This time, a lace tight fitting dress, showing that Halsey is still at this point of filming, still VERY much pregnant — I’d say at least 8 months. The amount of movement, dancing and jumping that is being done during these performances is nothing short of impressive, given how pregnant she is. Not to mention the high notes that are being hit and the length that they are being held, yet never running out of breath. She never ceases to amaze with the talent that is held. After this energy filled performance came another with ‘Nightmare’ and we’re back in the dark, forest like setting with some red lighting to set the mood and dancers creeping in and throwing dust on their backs, which I took to be the demons that were sneaking up behind Halsey that fuelled her nightmarish voices that she speaks of.

‘Darling’ was the next outfit change, in a very pale, pastel pink, flowing dress and sheer pale pink gloves, a very soft glowing moment for the mum-to-be as she’s sat under a tree with pale coloured picnic rugs underneath her and flowers all around. The setting reminded me very much of an Alice In Wonderland style theme as she sings this soft ballad which is one of my absolute favourites off the new record. It is very much a lullaby-esque song and I can picture it being sung to her (now) newborn to help them sleep in the middle of the night and the whole setting between the visual and the song itself is very soothing and just plain beautiful. Following this, ‘Honey’ was played, with yellow lighting everywhere and the same flowing dress that was in the previous song. Mid-way through this song, Halsey dips her hands into a big pot of honey and spreads it all over herself as she continues to sing. I know what you’re thinking, no one can look good while doing this, but this was done in such a way that it actually didn’t look awkward or weird, it really did just look good.

Next we had ‘I Am Not A Woman, I’m A God’ and she was dressed in yet another outfit, which this time was a white dress, similar to an ancient Goddess and had bright, white lights at certain points to hit her face and everything being striking and sharp in movements. It was a point of both powerful movements and powerful lighting that really worked in harmony and the blood being thrown all over her during this was an interesting choice. I can’t say that I really understood why the blood was being thrown, but knowing how Halsey always makes sure there is purpose and story to everything that she does, I’m absolutely certain there is a meaning, I probably just missed it.

To end this absolutely amazing experience, Halsey performed an old favourite, surrounded by drums of fire which would set off bursts of big flames every so often. If you’re wondering why there was fire surrounding her, then look no further than ‘Gasoline’. That’s right. This beautiful edgy, punk undertone, pop song made it into the setlist and man am I happy about it. It was so nice to see the visual along with a song that is only ever performed at big shows, and even then sometimes it doesn’t make it in.

All in all, I can say that this was a one of a kind experience. It wasn’t quite a live concert as it was definitely pre-recorded in a pre-baby setting, but it wasn’t quite music videos stuck together and there wasn’t too much of a storytelling element either. It was a unique experience to peek inside the mind of Halsey (and director Colin Tilley) to see how their mind works and almost the visual effects that they imagine when they’re releasing music. It’s not enough to be a music video, but it’s enough to help you experience what small starting points would have become the major lighting effects and major experience details that would have been included if this had have been turned into a full large scale arena show — like dancing with honey and having rainbow lighting effects go off in one of the most upbeat songs that is played. I truly cannot wait to see this become a full scale show one day, with all the costumes, the set design and lighting effects that come with it.

Livestream Review by Heather McNab

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