Music

Olivia Rodrigo GUTS World Tour review – the voice of Gen Z girlhood makes it looks easy

A long way from her Disney days, Olivia Rodrigo looks like a model and sings like a Broadway star. But is she the generational rockstar fans claim she is?

Olivia Rodrigo performs live at the 3 Arena on 30 April, 2024 in Dublin

Olivia Rodrigo performs live at the 3 Arena on 30 April, 2024 in Dublin. Image: Samir Hussein/Getty Images for LIVE Nation

Olivia Rodrigo is a rockstar. 

It’s been two years since she properly launched with global smash hit drivers licence. The track quickly became the definitive teenage heartbreak anthem of our time. Fast forward through three Grammys and worldwide recognition, and Rodrigo sits as the definitive spokesperson for Gen Z girlhood. Both Olivia and I were 19 the last time she took to the stage in Glasgow. I have high expectations on her return – this is the girl who soundtracked my coming of age.

The floor is littered with purple boa feathers and young girls in silver sequin skirts. It’s a Wednesday night in the Hydro, where thousands of fans are watching candles spell out the word ‘GUTS’ onscreen before slowly melting away; Olivia Rodrigo is nearly here. 

The pop-princess appears onstage, the crowd booming with the force of 14,000 teenage fangirls. It’s so loud they miss their cue to start singing, but quickly get back on track. A long way from her Disney days, Rodrigo, who looks like a model and sings like a Broadway star, tells us, “Glasgow, this is going to be a great fucking night!” as she chants the chorus to bad idea right?.

Rodrigo’s songs, full of wit and wry references to sex, address topics that will go over the heads of some of the younger fans in the crowd. “Everything I do is tragic, every guy I like is gay!” she laments in ballad of a homeschooled girl as she skips, prances and stomps across her stage, every bit embodying the megastar she has become. 

The entire show is a balancing act – from her glittery two-piece sets paired with chunky Doc Martens to the way she effortlessly transitions from pop-punk anthems to thoughtful ballads, she is constantly spinning four or five different plates. She makes it look easy.

Olivia Rodrigo performs live at the 3 Arena on 30 April, 2024 in Dublin. Image: Samir Hussein/Getty Images for LIVE Nation

Perhaps it’s that she, at only 21 years old, still talks like a young girl, asking the crowd if they’re a Pisces and claiming that trading a fan a guitar pick for a one-inch tall Sylvanian Families mouse is “literally the best thing ever”. Perhaps it’s her ability to put voice to universal experiences like heartbreak, jealousy, and betrayal with stark honesty. Or perhaps it’s just the fact that she’s not a very good dancer. Whatever it is, there’s somehow no pretence with Olivia Rodrigo. Her smiles to fans seem earnest, even her hair flips feel authentic. To sell out a vast arena and fill it with your presence is one thing, but to do so while still coming across as relatable is another entirely.

She sits at a piano for fan favourites traitor and vampire, followed by GUTS album closer teenage dream. The latter is a song about being “so terrified to grow up”, Rodrigo tells us. “But if I could tell my 18-year-old self one thing, it would be that growing up is fucking awesome,” she explains to a tearful audience, clearly touched by her assurance that things would be alright. 

Soon, she ditches the piano in favour of a crescent moon which flies her around the venue, as little pockets of screams and “I love you’s!” break out. She returns to the stage to tell us that she loves ‘Glass-gow’ but still feels “so american”, gliding into the track of the same name. At times the energy in the room is indistinguishable from that of a 16th birthday sleepover, as she instructs us, “Iif you’re here with your best friend, or your mom, give them a big hug.”

After a quick change into a bright red body-hugging jumpsuit, she runs back on stage. As beautiful as her vocals are, her energetic rock-y anthems are where she really shines. For brutal, obsessed, and all-american bitch, she runs and jumps like a woodland sprite, singing her cultural commentaries with a faux solemness: “I am light as a feather, I’m as fresh as the air/ Coca-Cola bottles that I only use to curl my hair.” 

The song culminates with Rodrigo commanding the audience to “think of something that really, really pisses you off, and scream at it! As loud as you can!” Thousands of voices scream into the abyss, joined together in a joyous moment of pure, unadulterated rage. If there’s one thing you’ll take away from Olivia Rodrigo’s concert, it’s that her success was built on her understanding of one, fundamental truth; you should never, under any circumstances, underestimate the righteous anger of a teenage girl. 

Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS World Tour continues through Europe.

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