Last summer, I was able to say something most people couldn't: I saw Lorde
live in concert twice. I saw her first at Coachella and then later at Governors Ball in New York, however everyone knows that an artist's festival set isn't really an accurate representation of what they're fully capable of in a live setting. Especially in this instance for the New Zealand super star, who was only at the beginning stages of promoting her comeback after four years of silence. At Coachella, she entertained us mostly with 2013's Pure Heroine,
"Green Light" which was already out, plus a few others that we weren't even familiar with yet, like "Homemade Dynamite." Her live show, now given a bigger budget, more credibility, and overall more possibilities, was merely in its experimentation phase. So naturally, when I saw she was headlining a very sold out Barclays Center in New York City last night, I knew it was going to be like seeing her for the very first time.
Following the both eclectic and fitting openers Mitski
and Run The Jewels
, the show opened with "Sober." It made sense, this was Lorde's show - no, this was Lorde's party - and we were all invited. She got her other banger, "Homemade Dynamite," out of the way before diving into "Tennis Court," all while donning a sparkly black crop top with matching pants. As for what was happening on stage, she kept things pretty simple with a few background dancers (Lorde would join in every now and then), and a glass box behind her where the dancers mostly hung out. At one point halfway through the show, Lorde entered the see-through box for a costume change that would allow for the entire audience to see, and it was actually kind of brilliant. It was neither rushed nor sexy, but a simple, natural change. Right before she changed she performed what is perhaps the most heart-wrenching song about growing up on Pure Heroine,
"Ribs," and then after switched from an all black outfit to an all white outfit to perform "The Louvre," a Melodrama
song about blossoming love.
For an arena tour, this didn't really feel like an arena show. There weren't too many tricks or distractions, but instead, the performers just let the music do the talking. "I like to keep things pretty loose," Lorde even said after Melodrama
co-producer and writer Jack Antonoff
joined the stage to play a stripped down cover of St. Vincent
's "New York." The two joked around for a while, "all of my professionalism is just out the door once Jack is here," the singer giggled, sitting far back on stage. Afterwards, Lorde begged the Bleachers singer to stay on stage to perform the intimate "Liability" together. To hear and watch the completely sold out room - each and every tier - sing back the lyrics to "Liability" was one of many special moments throughout the night.
Another special moment in particular was "Writer In The Dark," which Lorde introduced as "the most Melodrama
song on the record," one that she was working on in the studio late at night trying to figure out. "When I showed people this record, they were like, ‘don't you feel bad writing about these people?' and I was like, ‘fuck that shit!'", Lorde exclaimed before giving one of her greatest vocal performances of all time. "I am my mother's child, I'll love you ‘til my breathing stops,"
she and the rest of the room screamed at the top of their lungs in the brattiest falsetto.
"Supercut" and "Perfect Places" were all big highlights as well, but "Green Light" was a clear winner. There was this weird understanding in the air that you could just feel amongst everyone, and it really is the most perfect breakup anthem to just flail your arms and scream along to - after all, what's more satisfying than singing about jealousy, moving on, not
moving on... and so much more? Even I jumped up and down for the chorus, letting go of all inhibition - it was impossible not to.
Lorde's festival appearances last summer were nothing in comparison to the sold-out show I experienced last night. It was a rare experience to look around and see fans both crying and dancing. Everyone had their own reason for being there, whether it was because Pure Heroine
played a major part in their high school career or because Melodrama
was getting them through a monumental heartbreak in their life. For a huge, sold out show at Barclays Center, Lorde really made it feel like home.