(This review was originally posted at 2:29 a.m. April 15, 2018)
The moment Lorde emerged on a stage bathed in turquoise light, she captivated the audience.
Her voice was alluring and unique, dreamy and evocative. She sings with conviction.
But the way she pairs her strong renditions with dancing and moving on stage – sometimes alone, other times with a group of dancers, is stunningly beautiful. Lorde’s emotional delivery Saturday night at Infinite Energy Center in Duluth moved many in the audience to tears.
The New Zealander started the show in a white two-piece, dancing and moving — skipping, stomping, sashaying. Some of the steps were carefully choreographed. Much of the time, Lorde had a breezy, free-spirited approach to her movement on stage. Quirky and awesome at the same time.
The stage had a minimalist feel. There was a band in the background, a large glass box at times suspended in the air and a group of dancers. She did her own costume changes on stage, switching from the white two-piece to a black, glittery two-piece to a white poufy outfit.
By the time Lorde performed “Green Light,” at her Melodrama tour (named after her critically acclaimed sophomore album Melodrama), her fans followed her enthusiastic lead and went crazy. At this point, everyone, it seemed was jumping up and down inside the arena.
The alt-pop singer was born Ella Yelich-O’Connor. Lorde chose her stage name because she was intrigued by royals and aristocracy. She felt the name Lord was too masculine so she added an “e.”
The album that made Lorde a pop phenomenon, “Pure Heroine,” came out in 2013. She writes lyrics with sensitivity, capturing life of suburban teenagers with bursts of poetry. From “Tennis Court:”
Pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane
I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space
But my head’s filling up fast with the wicked games, up in flames
“Pure Heroine” sold more than one million copies in five months, making Lorde the first female artist with a million-selling debut album since Adele and establishing her as the coolest girl in pop. She delves into boredom, friendships, internet gossip. Lorde was only 16 when “Pure Heroine” dropped. Yes, she comes across as much older. And still today, she definitely seems older than her years. She’s 21.
Lorde comes across at earnest and relatable. Saturday night, she recalled performing at Music Midtown in 2014, and how Atlanta seemed so far away from her home country and, “it was an amazing feeling that people wanted to come and see the show, and even now, it is the most amazing thing to me that, on a Saturday night, you want to come hang out.”
She went on to to talk about the creative process in developing new music. She often works alone, and it can be lonely, she said.
About the piece, “Writer in the Dark,” she said the following:
“It was very much me about the conundrum of being someone who writes everything down. . . It is a difficult kind of person to love, and it is a difficult kind of person to be but I realized . . . you just have to be the person you are supposed to be. There is no other life for us. We have to be the vivid dreamers. We have to be the over-reactors. We have to be the hopeless romantics. We have to be the writers.”
As she slowly started the emotional song , 17-year-old Lafaye Morton sang along, tears streaming down her face.
“When I was 14, I was going through a really, really hard time,” said Morton, who lives in Loganville. “And her songs in ‘Pure Heroine’ helped me get through it. The average person changes a lot in high school and basically, it’s OK for you to go through what you go through. And you don’t necessarily have to give in to what other people are telling you. It’s like you know yourself, and about being strong.”
At the end of show, she sprinted into the audience and hugged fans.
Run the Jewels opens for Lorde.
The hip-hop duo of El-P and Atlanta’s Killer Mike joined the North American leg of Lorde’s “Melodrama” tour last month in Milwaukee. (The show also featured Japanese-American singer Mitski in the first opening slot).
It seemed like an unusual pairing. But this creative duo took the stage with fierce energy and great creative synergy.
The timing of the Run the Jewels performance wasn’t lost either.
Killer Mike recently apologized for his appearance on an interview with NRATV, the broadcasting arm of the pro-gun lobbying and advocacy organization. In the interview, Killer Mike said, “I told my kids on the school walk out: ‘I love you. If you walk out of the school, walk out of my house.'”
The Atlanta rapper, businessman and noted activist posted a pair of impassioned videos on his Instagram page and Twitter pages, explaining that an interview he recently sat for with NRATV was misrepresented. Mike (legally known as Michael Render) said NRATV chose to use his interview about black gun ownership a week later to, inappropriately, Mike said, disparage “a very noble campaign that I actually support” – the student-run #MarchForOurLives events that attracted hundreds of thousands around the country last weekend to urge for changes to gun legislation.
Killer Mike’s rap partner in Run the Jewels, El-P, waited for his friend to clarify his stance before posting his own response on Twitter.
In it, El-P expressed his support as an “ally and friend” to the students of Parkland and “around the country and world,” and added that his loyalty to Killer Mike, despite their differences of opinion on many topics, remains unbroken. El-P said, “I wanna (expletive) strangle him ’cause it’s so stressful to watch when it could have been avoided.”
“I will never turn my back on this man. He wouldn’t turn his on me. Or you,” El-P also wrote.
At the end of their performance Saturday, Killer Mike delivered a heart-felt message about friendship, about how he and El-P are an example of enduring friendship between two people who may look different, have different backgrounds, and may disagree on even the most hotly debated issues.
He delivered a sincere anti-suicide message, asking everyone to be a beacon of hope. Smart phone lights dotted the dark arena in what looked like twinkling stars.
Melissa Ruggieri contributed to this review.