Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia tour confirms she's Britain's best pop star

"This is the best welcome home ever," says Dua Lipa, a couple of songs into the first UK show of her world tour.

"We've been waiting so long, so long to put this show on. We've moved it and postponed it and finally we're here."

Moments earlier, the 26-year-old had walked down the the catwalk of her vast stage, slowly raising her hands to the air as she soaked up the adulation of 21,000 fans who'd waited two years to see her at Manchester's AO Arena.

This wasn't just a pop concert - it was a reunion.

For context, we need to rewind a little. The Future Nostalgia tour was first announced in December 2019, as reports of a new, potentially-deadly virus started to emerge from China.

By the time Dua's second album (also titled Future Nostalgia) arrived the following March, the world was in lockdown and the tour was on ice.

The singer fretted about releasing an album of upbeat dance-pop while people were suffering.

"I'm not sure if I'm even doing the right thing," she told fans in a tearful Instagram live, "but I think the thing we need the most at the moment is music, and we need joy and we need to be trying to see the light."

Her instincts were right.

Instead of reminding us what we'd lost, the album cast forward to a time when we'd be pressed against each other again, singing these songs in sweat-soaked unison. Or, to use Dua's own words, she'd had a "premonition that we fell into a rhythm where the music don't stop for life" - and Future Nostalgia became the most-streamed album of 2020.

Even so, Covid restrictions played havoc with her tour. It was postponed and rescheduled three times, forcing Dua to find ways to keep her music alive - a remix album, a spectacular live-stream and a constant trickle of new songs, including the chart-topping Elton John duet Cold Heart.

All the while, anticipation for the concerts grew, and the roar that greeted the star on Friday night was a curious mixture of excitement and relief.