New Zealand’s most exciting export delivers thrills and chills in a crowd-pleasing set list with suitably melodramatic, Wuthering Heights-inspired staging.
There has always been something incredibly understated about Lorde as a pop star; no controversies or tabloid headlines to speak of. (The most shocking thing we learned about her this year was that she has a secret identity running an Instagram account dedicated to reviewing onion rings.)
But the title of her latest album and tour, ‘Melodrama’, still feels apt — with every song packed full of the fire and feeling that we’ve failed to see in her public life, as if she’s saved every iota of energy and inspiration for her work. There’s no need for a meticulously produced artificial public persona (sorry Katy!) when the music is just this good.
If two critically acclaimed albums aren’t enough, this year’s Melodrama World Tour functions as proof that Lorde, aka New Zealand’s Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, has what it takes to be a long-lasting pop icon.
Taking to the stage following a well-received warm-up from Khalid, Lorde doesn’t feel quite so much like a late-to-arrive starlet, as much as an overdue friend. Everybody at the party was just waiting for her to arrive.
And boy, she does not disappoint.
The majority of the set is taken up with tracks from sophomore album Melodrama, but iconic moments from previous LP Pure Heroine aren’t ignored. ‘Team’, ‘Tennis Court’, ‘Buzzcut Season’ and anthem ‘A World Alone’ all figure heavily in the set-list. As does a borderline-iconic cover version of Phil Collins’ Eighties rock pop ballad ‘In The Air Tonight’, which comes out of nowhere but still earns its place through Lorde’s ethereal delivery. And while debut single “Royals” might have been over-played to the point of tedium on the airwaves, at the O2 it sparked an almost cult-like chant among the audience.
When it comes to songs from Lorde’s “new era”, fans aren’t disappointed. Emotional ballad ‘Liability’ and provocative love song ‘Sober’ are both performed in a diaphanous white gown in front of a neon, skeletal tree, an aesthetic transported directly from a Gothic novel, framing the singer as a latter-day Jane Eyre, while the echoes of ‘The Louvre’ are drawn out among the audience, and pop anthem “Green Light” is given its fullest-bodied rendition in the encore.
Lorde makes it clear that she knows her stratospheric success is due to the fans, interacting with the audience like an old pal and even diving into the crowd in a mad moment.
And whether it’s through her unrehearsed stage patter or charming, weird as hell dancing, Lorde’s authenticity as a performer is what will ensure that we’re all waiting with baited breath to see what she records next.