Age was on everyone’s mind during Lorde’s debut performance in Colorado last night. The 20-somethings were in awe of how many kids were in attendance. The kids seemed shocked that there were so many parents in the crowd. The bartenders were glad that this all-ages show attracted enough legal drinkers to keep the lines long and the tips flowing. Fathers could be found with their daughters riding high on their shoulders — mouthing words to songs that neither of them could relate to at their age. But it was Lorde herself who brought the elephant in the room to everyone’s attention – calling out to the other teenagers in the crowd who were still in high school, but also to those for whom sitting in a classroom was a distant memory — those who were there because they remembered what it was like to be in high school. This came in the form of a long intro to “Ribs”, one of the few times the 17-year-old singer addressed the sold-out crowd directly. It was a story familiar to most of us… Her parents were out of town, so a house party seemed like the obvious course of action. It was all fun and games until things got ugly (and broken). This particular party was unique for the fact that Broken Social Scene’s “Lover’s Spit” was on repeat, and also because it served as Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor’s last night of innocence. In the predawn hours of the following morning, the girl who would become Lorde found herself stuck in limbo between the worlds of adults and children. It was an extremely frightening feeling, as anyone who has crossed over can attest to, but the fact that she was able to recognize and embrace this change is what separates her from her peers in pop music.
I have to admit that I wasn’t all that excited for this show. I’m not a huge fan of the Fillmore. I’m not a huge fan of paying $10 for a shitty domestic beer. And although I am a huge fan of Pure Heroine, the performances I had seen on tv did nothing to sell me on Lorde as a live act. But the tickets had been purchased months in advance and it was a good excuse to meet some friends at Cheeky Monk (where paying $10 for a beer gets you something special) for dinner and drinks before the show. So it was…we made our way across the street with full bellies, a nice buzz and open minds, and we were rewarded with an easy entrance (the kids who were lined-up on Colfax earlier had been inside for quite some time), a couple free beers (provided by an extremely friendly guy we met while being ID’d) and some new friends (who introduced themselves and brought us up to their nice spot in front of the soundboard). I still wasn’t eagerly anticipating the show, but I was positively overwhelmed by the energy surrounding me. Everyone was just so happy. It was contagious.
At exactly 9:00pm, Lorde took the stage. Nothing but a silhouette and a voice, she guided us through “Glory and Gore” by herself, throwing out any misconceptions that she might be uncomfortable on the stage. Her voice was pitch perfect and I was immediately sucked into the performance. My fear was that the music would be good, but that the show would be boring. And although the stage was very simple — just Lorde, a keyboardist, a drummer and some simple backgrounds — there was something about her performance that kept you locked in the whole time. So many pop shows are all about the hits — there are the hits and then the filler time in between the hits. I’m not sure how many ‘hits’ Lorde has besides “Royals”, but it felt like every song was equal last night. In fact, by the time “Royals” rolled around late in the set, I had almost forgot I was waiting for it.
The whole show only lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, but she was able to perform the album in its entirety. She also threw in two cover songs, Son Lux’s “Easy” and The Replacements’ “Swinging Party”. She put it all out there and didn’t leave the stage until the confetti marked the end of the show. There would be no encore.
The biggest surprise of last night was the confidence coming from that stage. It’s not often that a new pop star comes out of nowhere. And when it does happen, it’s obvious that they have been manufactured to do just that. There was no calculation is what Lorde was doing. There was no controversy. She didn’t need an image or a brand built around her to make it a good show. She was real. You could tell she was real because nobody in their right mind would have told her to do the things she was doing. She didn’t really dance, she twitched. She was pale, wearing purple lipstick and had incredibly unruly hair. She didn’t seem to be trying to fit into any mold, or trying to market herself to any demographic…she didn’t need to.
Lorde just writes songs from her perspective. She just sings those songs in her own incredible voice. And last night she delivered those songs from a stage in front of thousands of people…almost as if she had been doing it forever.
Glory And Gore
White Teeth Teens
Swinging Party (The Replacements)
Easy (Son Lux)
A World Alone