The harsh realities of a pandemic show their ugly faces in a variety of ways. From airports to delis to family reunions, the nature of the international COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the many intricate ways in which our lives are inseparably interconnected. Perhaps one of the most tangible manifestations of this is the sudden lack of live music. To combat that, artists around the world are trying out all sorts of new methods to stay connected to fans and provide some much-needed entertainment. One such artist is songwriter and powerhouse vocalist, LP.
On May 29, LP released her very first live album Live In Moscow via Vagrant/BMG. The record came as an atonement of sorts to her fans after she was forced to reschedule her 2020 tour. While they don’t necessarily capture the full excitement of a live performance, live albums have long been a staple of popular music, showcasing an artist’s raw talent and energy — Live In Moscow is no exception.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to put out a live record,” LP told American Songwriter. “I’ve been wanting to do one for a while, but this felt like the right time to get it going.”
Recorded on April 9, 2019 to a sold-out crowd of over 6,000 fans in Moscow, Russia, the record’s 17 songs show off LP’s diversity and talents as a performer. “My genre is difficult to define,” she said. “It sounds like pop music on the record, but when you see the show, I’m a rock singer through-and-through. We work with a musical director named Stacey Jones, who is incredible. I was trying to explain that genre thing to him, saying that I wanted to create a parallel between rock music and myself even though I might seem like I’m not outwardly doing rock music. Stacey, myself, my keyboard player and my producer, actually, worked up the arrangements to try to put a real show together. Something exciting with long interludes and different moods, a cover here or there. It’s nice, there’s more intensity in some ways. I think that’s the best part of a live record — things you didn’t notice before, that might not even be on the actual record, come to the front. It puts more tension in there.”
The amount of care and attention LP puts into her artistry is evident on Live In Moscow when listening to the mind-blowing control she has over her voice and the raw emotional intensity it emits. Despite having written hits for megastars like Cher, Rihanna, The Backstreet Boys, Céline Dion, Christina Aguilera and more, LP remains a very down-to-Earth kind of artist who takes great joy in truly connecting with her audience. That even played into the decision to use the Moscow show specifically for this record.
“When I think about live records, one of the most famous ones that always comes to mind is Cheap Trick at Budokan,” she said. “I always felt that it was really cool because it was in a more exotic place. Often I think that there’s a romance that goes along with where the live album is recorded. We listened to a couple of different shows, but the Moscow one was really the one that seemed to feel good. I love my Russian audience and I’m always amazed by them. We’ve had a few No. 1’s there, a lot of people really know me and are really supportive, but when I first started to get big there a lot of people were like ‘really? You? In Russia? That’s so odd.’ I was like ‘yeah, it’s a little odd to me too’ but at the same time, it just is, so I honor it and enjoy it.”
Continuing, LP explained that live music not only unites us physically by getting a bunch of bodies in a room to share in a mutually rewarding experience, but it also unites us on a deeper level, allowing us to forgo the barriers that typically divide us.
“I remember being very struck when I first started going to Russia,” she said. “We as Americans have grown up with such a weird headspace about what Russia is. We’re so used to hearing about it through politics. When people talk about Russia or the Soviet Union or the Cold War, we don’t talk about the people. It sounds so lame and antiquated because it should be so obvious, but they are just like us. They want similar things. When you see their humanity in front of you as an audience night after night, it warms your heart and gives you hope. I think we’re one of three bands ever that’s gone to places like Krasnoyarsk, Krasnodar and Yekaterinburg among others. The people are really passionate and really wonderful, we had a really, really good time with them all.”
Yet, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unfortunate reality is that the return of that ‘good time’ still remains in the future. “Everything got pushed to next year,” LP said, referring to her postponed 2020 tour. “We had to reschedule the U.S. tour four times. Now I think it’s set to happen in the of fall 2021.” However, LP has been able to utilize this time productively. Not only putting out Live In Moscow, she is also near completion of a new album and has been using quarantine as a time of creative regeneration. “I’m not one of those people who’s like a PEZ dispenser for music where you just put shit in and songs come out,” she said. “I need a minute to marinate on things and absorb the gravity of everything. This has been a really good retrospective time for me.”
Still, LP remains hopeful that this ‘new normal’ is more of a ‘temporary normal’ — “I don’t know if it’s permanent,” she said, referring to the rise of livestreaming. “I personally hope it isn’t. You see someone like John Mayer just sitting on his couch making jokes and playing guitar, and it’s like the glamour has been whisked away. But, I think that some of that glamour is fun for everybody. It’s an element of escapism, it lets people live in another place for a minute.”
Nevertheless, LP is confident in the music community’s ability to bounce back once the pandemic dies down, regardless of how long that takes. Excited to get back on the road, to connect with her fans and bring show-stopping performances to all corners of the Earth, LP said: “Our last major pandemic was in 1918 — why did they call it the ‘Roaring Twenties’ after that? Probably because people were like ‘woohoo! Holy fucking shit we can go outside!’”
Listen to LP’s Live In Moscow below: