Dressed in billowing white, Mitski bows as Love Me More’s synths build and build. The screams that greet her are loud enough to set eardrums crackling: Mitskimania is here. Having pressed pause in 2019, stepping from the touring hamster wheel after three albums in four years, the Nashville-based songwriter became a superstar in absentia on TikTok – the New York Times recently reported that posts tagged #Mitski had crossed 1.5bn views.

The song that sparked the craze, Nobody, is met by another sense-rearranging roar. But so is every other intro. The kids have devoured one of the most compelling, emotionally taxing catalogues in modern American music, and they’re happy to shout about it.

There can be a darkness to the sort of fandom Mitski now commands, a sense of entitlement and a need for a piece of someone, and her stage presence continues to be heavily stylised in a manner that is artistically compelling but also protective. Its careful choreography and periods of darkness between songs draw attention to the show, not the performer.

During First Love/Late Spring, Mitski mimes picking the peach of the lyrics, her movements studied by a couple of thousand sets of eyes. When she cuts loose – delivering surfy go-go moves to the garage-rock skronk of Townie, headbanging to the squalling Your Best American Girl – the effect is electrifying.

These songs, which are rooted in the indie rock of Mitski’s earlier work, fare better than ornate, synth-driven moments from 2018’s Be the Cowboy and her new record Laurel Hell. This is a cavernous space and the mix is soupy, sucking the intricate lead line of Geyser and the spiralling keys of The Only Heartbreaker towards the former ​​Victorian warehouse’s vaulted ceiling.

But, given the energy being transferred between musician and crowd, what should be a major gripe is quickly ushered away. Opening the show, Mitski sang of needing love to fill a void – it duly surges towards her tonight, like iron filings around a magnet, and still there remains a sense, for her and her fans, that there is room for more besides.

Mitski plays Leeds University, Friday, then tours the UK until 29 April.



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