There was humming in the restless Palace air – girls and boys alike were slipping off denim jackets as they prepared themselves, shaking out the last vestiges of cold that had been nipping at ripped knees. Each of us had clamoured to get there. We’d counted our dollars on the train to get to the party, and now the time had come to see what all the fuss was about.
I had never seen Lorde live. This is a big omission to make from me. In my home country of New Zealand, it’s practically an enforceable offense to disengage yourself from anything that’s made it ‘big’ from the shores of the long white cloud. But I hadn’t, so I had to make up for it. To quote those that were waiting in line with me as we shuffled inch by inch into Alexandra Palace, ‘The gig was going to be INTENSE.’ Or as they put it in their attempts at Lorde’s (and mines) accent, ‘In-tents.’
In a 10,000-strong crowd, I stood with the lucky and pushy few who had sacrificed afternoon plans to secure spots right by the stage; the pain in my feet was worth it. Lorde emerged from the swathes of black curtain to rapturous applause, screaming and dancing of all skill-level. Clothed in black herself, she moved less like the gothic ghost at the end of a long corridor and more as if tonight was her last night partying with friends before moving to a new city.
Despite the show being emblazoned with the name of her latest album Melodrama, the set featured many ‘oldies’ from her debut of Pure Heroine which meant that at least everyone could rouse themselves for a rendition of ‘Royals’. The new material such as ‘Supercut’ and ‘Sober’ didn’t fall flat though, as the more up-tempo beats meant that despite less dedicated fans not knowing the words, they could at least do the human pogo stick move of jumping up and down to show they were still enjoying it.
The biggest surprises of the night came in the unexpected cover of Phil Collin’s ‘In the Air Tonight’, with Lorde asking the crowd to ‘lose their shit when it got to that bit, you know that bit.’ Despite hyping the ‘bit’ up, the cover came off a tad lack lustre with no real change in intensity for the whole song. The result being a whole bunch of 19-24 year olds trying to ‘lose their shit’ and just swaying awkwardly instead. (For those interested in Lorde’s take, she also preformed it for her spin in the BBC Live Lounge on the 28th of September.)
Lorde also surprised by taking some of the production into her own hands. At one point stopping to play the Xylophone on the floor kid-like to ‘Buzzcut Seasons’; a juxtaposition to the growing maturity in themes for her latest album, which she describes as ‘a record about a wide-open heart.’ These moments punctuated the whole set, with the flamboyant whimsy of three costume changes and her wild arm flailing serving as a constant reminder that despite her pop star status, here was a 20-year-old out for a good time.
Lorde ended the show by taking her shoes off, and gave the crowd one last song off Melodrama to send us home happy, choosing to accompany herself with a drum machine on ‘Loveless’. The song concluded the night on a limitless note, with the final refrain of ‘L.O.V.E.L.E.S.S Generation’ hanging in the space between the stage and us like a dare. (Pronounced ‘Deer’ in Lorde’s accent)
VERDICT: The concert was a valiant first effort at proper pop star production and was well worth the trek to get there. I can see Lorde’s future gigs only growing, as her ‘sound of tomorrow’ continues to resonate. The sun was starting to light up as we walked home with tired little laughs. We’d spent the evening in a perfect place.