It’s strange to think the girl I first saw in a 200 person venue in Sydney over a year ago was the performer that I saw on stage infant of 6,000 at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on the 19th. In just over a year Lorde has evolved into such a confident performer that she was nearly unrecognisable from the girl I saw back then.
The night started with the Canberra trio Safia who have also come a long way since the first time I saw them live. Lead singer Ben Woolner offered the crowd a stunning vocal show, energetically striding across the stage. The front row was really getting into the feel of the trio, jumping and dancing around like they weren’t being slowly squished against the barrier by the people behind them.
Covers of The Ashton Shuffle’s hit “Tear It Down” got a great response from the crowd who cheered and bopped along to the remix. The group finished with the track “Listen to Soul” while some funky light shows coupled with erratic jumps across the stage signaled the perfect ending to an opening set that really got the crowd pumped for the main show.
The lights went out and a low hum of a baseline vibrated throughout the deathly quiet arena. A singular spotlight hit the stage to reveal “Lorde” looking sharp in a navy blue oversized suit, busting out the first few lines of an simplified version of the track “Glory and Gore“. The lights died down again after some quirky dancing and the black curtain was yanked down to reveal her band set up a synth guy and drummer surrounded by flickering candles. The backdrop a deep red velvet curtain with a trio or ornate framed screens held high above the stage illuminated as the bass shook in for “Biting Down“.
Through the 14 song set Lorde proved over and over again just why she had gained so much international attention over the past year and had become such a powerful force in music. Her stage presence which went from little twitches to full on letting loose and dancing wildly during tracks like “Tennis Court” and “Bravado” a track which is introduced as “This is a song about confidence… faking it“.
There was speech before the track “Ribs” where Lorde lamented about how she missed her friends and family in New Zealand, and how on her way to the venue she reflected how much Newcastle reminded her of her hometown and that she loved it there. which gained a cheer from the audience. Amongst the tracks performed from her album “Pure Heroine“ Lorde also found time for two overs of “Easy” by Son Lux and “Swinging Party” by The Replacements.
It was nearing the end of the set and the lights were dimmed on the set whilst Lorde stood motionless in the centre of the stage. “Baby I rule,” began to echo throughout the venue accompanied by an heavy drum beat. If you had seen Lorde performing earlier this year at the Grammys then you’ll understand the magnificence and grandeur that is generated by this specific rework of her hit song “Royals“. Performing the stripped back version of the song with glowing crowns illuminated on the screens it was an understated moment perhaps during the set for such a big song but Lorde pulled it off.
That wasn’t the end of the set however, next came “Team” which was given an extended introduction and strobe lights that made the song feel huge. Mid song the track began a glitching bridge where Lorde left the stage whilst “dancing around the lies we tell//dancing around big eyes as well,” repeated. The crowd danced during this extended bit and a huge applause erupted as Lorde returned to the stage donned in a flowing gold cape to finish off Team before ending the show bathed in a spotlight singing “World Alone“.
It still amazes how much Lorde has grown as a performer since the first time I saw her a year ago.The awkward shy girl who hid entirely behind her hair for her full set has been replaced by a confident, woman on stage who lets go of any inhibitions and puts on a show to rival anyone else in the business. With work begun now on her sophomore album I cannot wait for her next Australian show and hope for a bigger even better production.