© Sara Collaton

WHERE: Sound Academy, Toronto
WHEN: September 22 2010

The atmosphere in the Sound Academy seemed to be off. Maybe it was because the dockside venue was barely half full. Maybe it was because the headliner was running 20 minutes late. Or maybe it was the fact a delightful friend wasn’t at my side due to Mother Nature plaguing her with a sinus cold. Either way, the mood for M.I.A.’s return to the city of Toronto didn’t seem right.

That is, until Maya herself claimed the stage. Powering through “Illygirl” and “World Town”, the controversial artist flashed a sense of ferocity in the opening of her set, overshadowing every criticism of her as a vocal performer. Though when it appeared she finally found her mojo, it evaporated, to the point where an encore brimming with “Paper Planes” and “Boyz” could not make it resurface. The lethal blow during her Toronto stop was the enslaving love jam “XXXO”, where M.I.A. stumbled with lyrics and after noting it was the track’s first live appearance, boldly stated, “I don’t give a f*ck if nobody buys my shit, cause’ that shit should be free”.

A majority of the setlist flailed with disappointment and the trip-tastic videos of erotic lips and splattered blood did overpower, but the night wasn’t a tragedy as it sparked a question. Is M.I.A. just really toying with the media? New York attacked her, Montreal fell in love with her reemergence and Toronto was left confused. On that note, all you can do is applaud because it’s clear: it only takes one drop of M.I.A.’s talent to compel listeners to bust out a groove.


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