We’re still recovering from what was a feast for the ears of full on, irresistibly infectious pop bangers performed by Scandinavian superstar-in-the-making ALMA.
Club Academy was a surprising venue for the singer as she could easily fill Academy 3 or even have a go at filling Academy 2 but in the end it was the perfect choice to squeeze in her hardcore Mancunian fans. Feeling like a student again being at the SU, the place was full to the brim with overexcited students high on vodka and red bulls here to see the Scandi star.
ALMA started her career by competing on the Finland version of Pop Idol, bowing out half way through the finals. It worked better in her favour as she’s found a niche sound all on her own and a cult following around Europe and the USA. Her biggest single ‘Chasing Highs’ peaked in the UK Top 20 last year, signifying the beginning of a promising pop career. She’s collaborated with big names of the ‘who’s hot right now’ crowd; Charli XCX, MØ, Tove Lo, and French Montana. She burst onto the red light lit stage with her band to breakout anthem ‘Karma’. From that very instant the gig was an ambitious and continuous journey of Scandi pop, R&B, and dance hall flavoured bangers. “I hear in Manchester you guys like to drink and party?” You betcha; Alma and her back up singer (her twin sister Anna, in fact) had the crowd jumping to every beat, of every song; not a moment was spared to stop the party.
Considering the date of the gig, it was a nice touch of her to get the audience to take a moment of silence in honour of those who died in last years terror attack at Manchester Arena. She got the whole room silent, before declaring, “We should appreciate our lives, fuck hate & fuck terrorism!” Too right. The set list was a relentless, none stop, tour de force of Alma’s newly acquired back catalogue of hits and extras. Her EP ‘Heavy Rules’ was released just a few months ago and is a mini album crafted around her original take on R&B flavoured, bass pumping gems. Get it downloaded on Spotify now; you’ll love the EP’s punchy, demanding oomph of pop in your headphones on your way to work. She performed all of it’s tracks at the Academy; ‘Chit Chat’ was a slick performance of subtle vocals backed with a Disclosure inspired beat, ‘Legend’ is an anthem that got everyone’s head bopping in agreement and ‘Dance For Me’ had all the Academy’s hands in the air for the banger of it’s chorus alone. You could tell just by watching ALMA alone she was loving the sold out crowds reaction; she was beaming all night at their reaction to her presence and a group in the audience who’d made ALMA banners with her face on.
The opening line to belter ‘Dye My Hair’ alone was enough for the whole crowd to go wild; it’s the addictively catchy track that is resonated most with Alma as she’s made her own fluorescent coloured hair a symbol of identity. Merchandise, EP and single covers, music videos; they all have a flash of fluorescent greeny yellow somewhere. Just like Rihanna did in her Loud/bright red hair days circa 2010, remember? By the time ‘Chasing Highs’ rounded off the nights festivities the whole of Club Academy was dancing along. Ending with a few Acapella lines of the chorus, she succeeded in mastering the art of leaving the crowd wanting more without a sniff of an encore.
ALMA performed at Club Academy on Tuesday 22nd May 2018. Words by Tom Frodsham.