Her silhouette a crazed and desperate shadow, she convulses and stalks as if tortured by the music thrumming behind her. From the darkness we hear a deep melodic voice… “There’s a humming in the restless summer air, and we’re slipping off the course that we prepared, but in all chaos there is calculation, dropping glasses just to hear them break….” Yes, there is certainly a humming in the air, although it is a chilly winter night that envelops me, rather than a balmy summer one.
It’s a Sunday night and I’m standing on a grassy hill overlooking the Brisbane River, watching one of the greatest female performers of our current generation. Dressed in a grey suit and black crop top, she whips her hair to the frenzy of the music, convulsing and moving around in a crazed fashion as she sings. It can only be one young woman… Lorde.
My initial reaction was one of wonder. ‘How can she continue to sing through all of this crazy dancing?’ I think to myself. I was reminded of the way that Michael Jackson used to perform whilst crunched over, hitting those magical notes in a way that defied his stage posture. Much the same can be said about Lorde.
“Brisbane it’s so amazing to see you! We are very happy to be ending the tour here,” the young performer calls out. “Holy shit there’s so many of you!”
Beginning the show with favourites such as Glory and Gore, Buzz Cut Season and Tennis Court, Lorde did not disappoint – especially when she climbed down from the stage to sing amongst those in the mosh pit area. During the set Lorde introduced a new track by the name of Easy. Filled with big horn sounds, static, and her true-to-form manic dancing, it was definitely a favourite with the crowd. One of my favourite moments was during Buzz Cut season. Watching Lorde doing her thing strutting around the stage and dancing with carefree abandon, filled me with this overwhelming sensation of hope. That may sound strange at first, but the reason that I make this connection is because Lorde is not just a performer, but also an amazing young woman who inspires so many – especially teenagers.
To watch her taking on the world with her music all the while staying true to herself, is truly refreshing. She is such an intriguing individual… feminine and vulnerable at times, whilst also strong and unwavering. She is what so many of us have been waiting for in the music industry… a female performer in control of her image, one who refuses to be placed in the stereotypical, sexualised pop mould which so many female artists are these days. She’s outspoken, unapologetically true to her beliefs on female equality, and has no problem releasing un-airbrushed images of herself. Because, you know, she doesn’t give a shit about living up to unrealistic cultural expectations.
She has a no-bullshit attitude, and I think as Australians that is something we particularly love. I still remember laughing when I read a news report on her reaction to David Guetta’s music proposal. “NO. F*ck no! He’s so gross!” It would seem that the young teenager doesn’t care about turning down one of the biggest music producers around, and she’s certainly not about to work with someone just because they are a ‘big name’.
Lorde doesn’t follow trends for the sake of money, and quite frankly, she hasn’t had to. By her 17th birthday, she had already been offered ridiculous sums of money by various recording labels, but took her time deciding on the one which best fit her creative vision. She’s also remained calm in the face of waste-of-space individuals (cough cough) such as Tyler the Creator, who publicly mocked the young teen and her boyfriend because he thought they looked weird together. Note that when TTC came face to face with Lorde many months later at a concert, he apparently apologised.
Standing there at her concert, I hear her voice boom above the electronic samples and loops. “I’m little but I’m coming for the crown.” I can’t help feeling that this is her mantra… At just 17 years of age she has accomplished enormous things. The young performer has won almost 20 awards to date and been nominated for more than 50 awards, with her prizes including Grammies, Billboard Music Awards, and many others.
However, despite her comfortability onstage and her seemingly effortless maturity, fame is still a wonder to Ella Yelich-O’Connor (Lorde). Pausing halfway through the show to take a drink from her slushy (“I’ve gotta get me some more of this slushy situation”, she says cutely) Lorde looks out into the sea of people before her. “This is insane to me…”she says in wonder. “There’s a fucking field of people!” It seems that despite her success, this is something that the humble teen still finds hard to comprehend.
Lorde also has a way of speaking with her audience that is humble yet confident. She is open with her thoughts; especially concerning her journey from a young teen in a small town, to playing shows worldwide. Speaking with the audience about her song Ribs, she is not afraid of being deep.
“I wrote this about a party I went to…” she begins. “I remember suddenly realising my mortality. That I was turning into an adult.”
“You wanna be grown up but at the same time you don’t know how to do everything you see your parents doing… For a long time this has been something that has kept me up at night; thinking about what it means to be an adult…to never go back.
“A lot of my music is about a world my friends and I inhabit that feels so small and shut off… I’m in that world a lot less now that I do this,” she says before pausing thoughtfully. “But Brisbane, it’s not so bad when I get to do it with YOU. Thank you for filling this field for me!”
As the crowd erupts with whistles of gratitude and love, I hear the hauntingly beautiful introduction to the next song. My favourite track – Ribs. Throughout the entire set, I am constantly in awe of her as a performer. She can walk onto the stage in a power suit and sing in a way that is soft and captivating, before changing into a musical marionette; her limbs flung wide as if controlled by the strings of her music. She changes things up, disappearing from view before returning in a gold cape dress which billows in the cold air.
After having to post-pone her tour earlier this year due to illness, Lorde certainly made up for it – ending her set with an explosion of confetti which rained down as she finished the night off with two of her biggest hits – Royals and Team. I am sure I speak for many when I say that she is a magnificent performer, and Australia look forward to welcoming her back again once more!
Written by Jas Swilks