Having taken in Ffion’s debut EP Bad Habits, as well as speaking with her previously about the experiences that allowed for its conception in the first place, we showed up to the Bad Habits launch, anticipating a moody and melancholic evening. Our expectations were fulfilled, but the gig turned out to be much more than that.
While the Bad Habits EP itself goes straight into the broken heart of a recent break-up with “Rumours”, the namesake concert opened instead with an older, more enlivened single, “Over”. “You got my heart wrapped up in your hands / And anything you ask / I’ll do,” she crooned against a medley of pink and blue dancing in the dark, bespeaking a certain, vibrant yet vulnerable, push-and-pull yearning for intimacy with a particular someone. Next up was a rendition of “Trippin’”, the fullness of the live set and the earnestness of the audience fortifying what is otherwise a stripped back, piano-based track, filling in any gaps, and finishing with a sudden but suitably seizing plunge into darkness at the final note.
“Real Good” followed immediately after, blue and white flashing lights galore, and by the time we emerged from a trance of sorts, Ffion was already introducing the next song. “This is about my ex-boyfriend. F**k him,” she proclaimed, and we could tell how much she really meant it as we heard “Rumours” in flesh and blood, from start to finish, as she wrapped up the song with a stern admonishment once again – because, in this case, two is clearly better than one.
The subsequent “I Miss U”, which felt like a confession addressed to us personally, was promptly followed by the band stepping off for a bit, fellow artist JAWN taking its place, as the two eased into a mesmerisingly rapturous, hypnotically harmonic, never-before-released duet, “Sink”. The next song then called for special attention to The Summer State‘s Shaykh Akbar (a.k.a. shaykhandbake), who helped Ffion produce the first bonus track on Bad Habits, “I Got You”. This performance was bathed in orange hues, in keeping with its swooning, sonic, sensual haziness that is an extension of Ffion’s reassurance of a commitment to love if her outstretched hand is accepted.
A cover of Honne’s “It Ain’t Wrong” marked the band’s return to the stage, succeeded by an ambient “14 Grand”, which was hallmarked by a deliberate dive into darkness, the puncture of a pause, and then a spectacular thrust of lights, almost blindingly stronger than before. Then we’d reached the final song for the night before we even knew it. “With U”, which is perhaps her most recognised song, has long been one of our favourite tracks by her, and hearing it live, exalted and raw, backed with an invisible but very much powerfully heard choir (“With you / I’m yours”), was tremendously fulfilling and atmospheric.
Needless to say, the show ended on a vivid, potent note, and it was only when Ffion – who, by the way, sounded just as good and velvety live as she does in the album, we feel the need to emphasise – thanked the audience for the umpteenth time and the crowd dispersed, trickling out in no hurry, that we realised we’d been lulled into a private world of open, honest feelings transfigured into words and sound; we had been spellbound the whole while.
Photography by Sam Auditeur Ho.