Lorde @Festival Hall, Melbourne _Wednesday 16th July 2014

lorde - xxl mag

Image courtesy of xxl magazine (2014)


sarahmottI have a bone to pick with most female pop stars on the charts at the moment; or more like a bone to pick with the media and society to pigeon-hole these women into images of femininity. Diva or sex kitten seem like the only identities on stage at the moment, regardless of how many times the word “empowered” is thrown around. So if there was one thing I was really impressed by about Lorde’s performance, it was that this barely adult young woman was carving out a feminine identity that was completely new and personal.

I’m not a huge fan of Lorde, but I snagged two tickets from the label that I intern at, so I thought, heck, let’s see what all the young’ns these days are twerkin’ to. My boyfriend is a fan, so I also look like a good girlfriend taking him out for the night – but for freeeee! Double win! So after a quick listen to Pure Heroine that afternoon – I took nothing in, it was like I was listening to the first song ten times – we set off.

A bad start; Mitty (bf) is of the coloured skin lineage, and was promptly searched head-to-toe by a squat bodyguard drunk on power, while she let in countless Caucasians without even checking their bags. A warning to punters, there is an, ahem, racially-judgemental person guarding the doors of Festival Hall, and she has struck before, we hear. With slightly ruffled feathers we took our seats in the throbbing gloom, too late for the support act (no regrets, Korean BBQ was worth it).

She entered in darkness, slinking almost, amidst the high pitched screams of thousands of – mostly girl – fans. No introduction, no banter, trademark purple lips to the mic and straight into Gore and Glory. Her lone voice growling into the silence gave me shivers, and then the beat kicked in. This is not what I was expecting from a pop star. Dressed in sheer flowing black against a single black curtain she is nothing but a silhouette in the white glare of the spotlight. This has an almost a witching hour feel, and it works. What with Pink, Britney, Katy and the like turning gigs into circus spectacles, this minimalism was almost shocking, but so welcome.

What I love most was Lorde’s movement about the stage; reminiscent of Peter Garrett, she jerks her limbs around, trance-like to the beat. Brilliant, completely herself, and so un-female teen pop icon, it’s exactly how I feel like dancing when I’m at a club, but would get kicked out for elbowing too many people. Her voice is rich and resonant, and while songs hardly differ from the album recording, it was a polished, well designed show, punctual and no fucking about. Lighting, especially, was constructed well so as to focus everything on this lone figure throwing herself around the stage. She runs through most of Pure Heroine, with a few extras. Nice, nothing unexpected, all the hits.

At one point I am reminded of her young age; a confession speech in-between songs is like the ending of a Saddle Club episode, all BFFs forever, growing up is scary but great yey! I can see why so many parents were willing to be dragged here by their tween daughters, this girl is PG in the best way – Explicit? One F-Bomb. Sexualised? Hardly. Empowered in the actual sense, rather than the Gillette lady-razor ad sense? Heck yes. It’s all her, no choreography, no costume, no image, a mother’s dream teen-idol.

Finally, it’s over, and we know it’s over because Lorde does an unexplained costume change mid-second last song into a billowing gold cape-dress, and cannons shoot confetti into the air. So much colour after the last hour of monochrome, it’s a jolt back into reality. Lorde finishes with World Alone, uplifting to say the least – Mitty is doing a weird turkey-like seat dance, the tweens in front of us have completely lost it, even the parents are joining in – and with a brief thankyou, she’s gone. If this is what a pop star is, then that’s alright with me.

Artist: Lorde

Venue: Festival Hall