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Mitski did pilates on a table for an hour at End Of The Road festival

Her final UK show for the foreseeable was definitely memorable

“Did you think it would be like this?” Mitski Miyawaki deadpans mid-set, bent-double over the large wooden desk centre-stage. Honestly, it’s a resounding no.

Currently wrapping up the final commitments of her Be The Cowboy tour before taking a well-earned break from playing live, the Japanese-American singer-songwriter is going out with a bang. Where previous UK tours have featured her singing solo with guitar, or playing straight-up rock shows, for End of the Road Mitski has a different agenda entirely. Leaving all musical duties to her four-piece backing band she plays the role of performance artist. 

It all starts innocuously enough. Emerging silently stage right and singing ‘Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart’, from 2012’s pre-fame LP Retired from Sad, New Career in Business, she’s static facing the centre of the stage, only her knee pads hinting at the choreography to come. She takes a seat at the table for ‘Why Didn’t You Stop Me’, her hypnotic hand gestures pitched somewhere between Thin White Duke-style mime and Vogueing. By the track’s climax she’s singing supine on the table, leisurely cycling her legs in the air.

For teen crush anthem ‘First Love / Late Spring’ she paces the stage maniacally, channelling the song’s melodrama. ‘Geyser’ finds her furiously shaking the table by its legs, and during ‘Nobody’ she straddles the chair with her back to the audience, her exaggerated movements both sexy and unsettling. Her vocals are crystalline throughout, soaring over the distorted guitars of ‘Townie’ and acquitting the Bond theme theatrics of ‘Liquid Smooth’ beautifully.

The set climaxes with big single ‘Your Best American Girl’, finding Mitski on all fours, shaking her hair wildly. It’s pure theatre, and an unnerving ending to a show that has left the audience genuinely stunned. And while this definitely wasn’t the Mitski show any of us signed up for, it makes for an unforgettable farewell for now.

Photography by: Sharon Lopez

Mitski, The Garden Stage, End of the Road, Dorset, Friday 30 August 2019

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