It’s been a massive year for Lorde. In the years since the release of her wildly successful debut album Pure Heroine, her absence was felt as she took an extended break from the spotlight. After waiting for what seemed like forever, Sydneysiders were finally treated to a stellar performance from the young star on Tuesday night, the steps of the Sydney Opera House filled with fans anxious to hear the heartbreak album of the year brought to life.
Meeting and perhaps overtaking the expectations left in the wake of Pure Heroine, 21-year-old Lorde, born Ella Yelich-O’Connor, dropped her sophomore album Melodrama in June. A biting yet tender portrayal of youth, romance and heartbreak, Melodrama effortlessly peddles intense emotions and bitter lyrics disguised as fun, digestible pop to the masses. Lorde perfectly captures the death of a relationship, the hopelessness and grief followed by the regaining of strength and rebirth.
Tuesday’s performance was a testament to the superstar Lorde has become. From the moment she hit the stage she took the audience on a journey, a tour of her most vulnerable moments- weaponised and aimed at anyone who would doubt her. She emerged to deafening applause as the sun set over the picturesque harbour, outfit on point (it was a two piece glittery tracksuit with a lace trim and it was AMAZING), and launched into ‘Homemade Dynamite’, the most recent single from Melodrama.
Image courtesy of Prudence Upton.
She was soon joined by backing dancers and a stunning visual display of flowers crafted from neon lights as she powered through some older tunes, Disclosure collaboration ‘Magnets’, ‘Tennis Court’ and ‘Buzzcut Season’. In signature Lorde style, the performance was peppered with interjections and anecdotes. She took a moment to muse on the venue; “This is crazy, we’re at the Opera House!” and congratulated Australia on the result of the recent marriage equality vote before dancing around the stage wrapped in a Pride flag.
The show took a sombre turn as, with tear-filled eyes, Lorde performed Melodrama’s second single ‘Liability’. She prefaced this with the confession that “This song can be very hard to sing sometimes.” Seated on a speaker, she continued, “It’s about a time in my life when I felt very alone. Never in my life did I think this many people would get me”. I’d be surprised if there was a dry eye in the house at the end of the song.
With lyrics so raw and accessible, it’s easy to lose yourself in the sadder moments of Melodrama, especially when they’re being performed so earnestly. Lorde’s experiences with love and loss are relatable to a fault- so accurately does she capture the pain and humiliation of a failed relationship and the confusion of being young and in (or out) of love.
Image courtesy of Daniel Boud.
A final costume change into a gorgeous (and thematic) sheer green tracksuit indicated the show was reaching a climax. The crowd was buzzing with energy by the time she performed her breakout hit ‘Royals’, screaming every word back to her in unison as she flew across the stage. It was followed by ‘Perfect Places’ and ‘Team’. Singing with a huge smile on her face, Lorde skipped from the stage to be amongst adoring (and lucky) fans in the front row before finally tearing through heartwrenching break-up anthem ‘Green Light’.
The performance was capped off with green fireworks, and after a quick encore rendition of ‘Loveless’, Lorde’s triumphant return to the Sydney stage had come to a close. Her energetic performance style and charismatic persona on stage are merely small factors that contribute to a larger, undeniable fact: Lorde is no longer a shy teen from Auckland with a couple of hits, but a fully realized superstar. She’s a force to be reckoned with. And she’s here to stay.
You can catch Lorde at the Spilt Milk Festival in Canberra this weekend (get a wriggle on, it’s almost sold out) before her final stop of the tour in Melbourne.