After finishing up her Hold The Girl Tour in Europe in February, UK-based pop artist Rina Sawayama returned to the states to kick off her new and improved Hold The Girl: Reloaded Tour at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts. A combination of the overwhelmingly positive response from fans on the past run and personal feelings lead Rina to head out on the road again.
Her most recent tour, as the name suggests, focused majorly on her 2022 album, Hold The Girl. This time around, Rina felt it was important to include more of her older releases in the setlist to tell the story of how her debut album SAWAYAMA connects to her newest record. This tour brought a fresh performance to fans with powerful vocals, new choreography, dynamic props and set design.
Maryland born singer-songwriter Isabel LaRosa opened for Rina in North Adams. Accompanying Isabel was her brother and producer, Thomas LaRosa. After pursuing music for numerous years, Isabel gained traction on the social media app TikTok for her song “HAUNTED” last February. Within eight months of that release, she debuted the song “i’m yours,” which has now amassed over 250 million streams between the original and sped-up versions of the song. The duo held the attention of concert attendees with their high-energy and passionate set, even while suffering a technical difficulty. A true professional. While only joining Rina for one night only, Isabel LaRosa set the tone for the rest of the show.
As LaRosa’s charismatic set came to an end, fans eagerly awaited the arrival of the night's headliner. After some time, the lights suddenly dimmed and the crowd erupted in cheers. Rina appeared, illuminated and hanging off one of the many metal structures scattered across the stage. To the audience's delight, she began her set with the title-track “Hold The Girl.” Two backup dancers quickly joined Rina on stage, breaking out into a dramatic dance routine to complement the song playing. She followed this track up with “Catch Me In The Air” and “Hurricanes.”
Rina poured her heart into every song. Her vocal range and captivating dance moves allowed her to convey a wide range of emotions, from vulnerability to rage. The theatrics of the show were also a highlight. The attention to detail within the stage setup and lighting enhanced the overall experience of the night. She had about five different outfit changes and introduced chairs, chains, and a whip to her performance.
One of the most powerful moments of the evening came in the form of a speech. Rina slowed down the pace of her show to take a moment to recognize the harmful and intrusive laws against women and members of the LGBTQ+ community that have been introduced to the states recently. She explained how she will always use her platform, on and off stage, to support others and create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone. She let the audience know that she will always be there for them and love them no matter how they identify. She then began singing an acoustic version of her song “Send My Love to John,” which she wrote about her queer friend who was not accepted by his parents. This section of the show expressed Rina's impressive character and how much she truly cares for her fans.
Overall, the first date to Rina’s Hold The Girl: Reloaded Tour was a complete success. The night introduced new experiences for fans and also reminded them how truly talented Rina is. Her commitment to delivering a strong performance is evident at her show. It was more than just a concert. This night was a memorable experience that left the audience feeling moved and reassured the fact that Rina Sawayama is a star. She is not an artist you’ll want to miss. If you get the chance to attend one of her shows, I can promise that you will leave wanting to buy tickets to her next show.
All photos are by Lex Caiola