If there were any lingering doubts that Lorde is real deal, they were well and truly squashed by the teenager’s dark and dreamy set at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles last night (September 24). It’s one thing to make magic in the studio but translating that into a gripping live experience has been a stumbling block for many a hyped diva. See Annie and Little Boots for starters.
The thing that sets the 16-year-old Kiwi apart is her considerable vocal talent but also her seemingly indifferent attitude. Lorde doesn’t seem to give much a fuck — in the very best way. But more about that later.
Creeping on the dimly lit stage in a baggy black dress with a pale face framed by long locks, the current Queen of iTunes looked more like the wicked witch in a school play. Until she opened her mouth and started singing indie radio staple “Bravado”.
There’s something utterly disconcerting about that velvety, knowing voice coming out of a little girl’s mouth but it only took a couple of seconds to push away those thoughts. And by the time she moved onto the angry “Biting Down”, the sold-out crowd had already fallen under the teen’s gloomy spell.
Lorde finally took a moment to address her worshippers, saying: “I’ve got quite a set for you tonight — you better like it!” It’s that feistiness that makes the next big thing oddly irresistible. New Zealand’s finest export isn’t pandering to anyone. She’s already a great live performer and knows it.
“Glory And Gore” — a biting ode to teen angst — was the first new track on the setlist and it makes the (admittedly not long now) wait for Pure Heroine almost unbearable. After seething her way through that song, the comparatively upbeat “Tennis Court” came as something of a relief. And served as a reminder that Lorde has an unusually well-developed pop sensibility for someone championed by alternative music fans.
“Buzzcut Season”, another unsettling snapshot of suburban teen life, found the dark diva in a lighter move and she wafted across the stage, flipping her hair and performing bizarre hand choreography. That continued through “Swingin’ Party” before Lorde returned to her microphone stand and announced that she was going to play her favorite song from the upcoming album.
The winning track turned out to be “Ribs” — a chunk of grim electro that, ironically enough for a 16-year-old, chronicles the fear of aging. Or more accurately growing up. “I’ve never felt more alone,” she howled. “It feels so scary getting old.”
Her much-praised cover of Kanye West‘s “Hold My Liquor” was next and it’s still remarkable to see this odd goth girl spit Yeezy’s lyrics with such ease and conviction. She then apologized for concentrating on new material, saying: “I know it’s hard to go to a concert where you only know four songs.”
The thing is — it wasn’t difficult at all. Firstly, because her hardcore followers already knew every song and the rest of us were too busy enjoying the ride.
“White Teeth Teens” sounds like another radio hit but the biggest reception of the night was reserved for breakthrough hit “Royals”. The faithful were climbing on their friends’ shoulders for a better view, while hipsters sparked up joints and raised their hands in worship. It was truly a sight to behold for a such a new act.
Lorde then turned the dim venue into dance party with lush synth anthem “400 Lux” before closing the show with “A World Alone”. There was no encore. The 16-year-old didn’t mince words: “They won’t let me come back, so you better pretend I went off stage and give me some love.” She got it.
Lorde’s LA Setlist:
Glory And Gore
Hold My Liquor
White Teeth Teens
A World Alone
Were you at the show? Have you seen Lorde live? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.