Lana Del Ray live in London
- By Jack Preston -
- Nov 18, 2011
I arrived later than planned to Lana Del Rey's first ever London show, I had to check something online. What was the name of the private detective in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho? Consulting IMDB cost me time but I had to find out, it had been nagging at me all day.
Eventually I made my way up the Scala stairwell, shoving past The Sun's showbiz ferret Gordon Smart in his best Topman suit and skinny tie combination (oh, this really must be the hottest ticket in town), entering the main room as the house lights started to dim. With that storm clouds were projected above the stage onto giant white balloons as the piercing tones of the iconic Psycho score played out over the speakers.
Was this really happening? It was a little disconcerting, especially with the audience being treated to a full four minutes of the terrifying tune before New York's newest glamourpuss sauntered onto the stage.
Lana Del Rey and her four piece band were presented as you'd expect, playing in front of a purple, velvet curtain overshadowed by flashing images of various American triumphs. Oh it's Elvis, there goes the Hollywood sign, it's an open top muscle car speeding down Mulholland Drive, the Paramount Pictures logo, ooo the words Monte Carlo, god bless it's the stars and stripes, oh yes and there's Jessica Rabbit. As Del Rey opened the show I spent rather a lot of time fixated by the images.
Her first live UK television appearance on Jools Holland last month, where she performed the brilliant 'Video Games', was as captivating as it gets. Although she proved somewhat less enchanting in the flesh, which came as a surprise as all the key elements were there.
Del Rey's wavy auburn locks and slender silver earrings fell over a shimmering gold shirt as her vocals melted between assured, insecure and tender. Everything seemed impeccably well judged, although at times though it bordered on routine. Del Rey actually looking a little bored in between songs.
On the one hand I think I too might be bored with my evening if I had to listen to the constant din of drunken wolf whistles, on the other hand I think she needed to spend her twenty-nine minutes (yes, twenty-nine) on stage looking like more of a living creature and less of the record label robot that many have labelled her. Although it has to be said, when purring lines like "let me f**k you hard in the pouring rain", wolf whistles are always going to be a by-product.
The reason why Video Games is such a triumph is that it allows a very talented singer to showcase a fantastic voice. Yet the presence of the band and the tempo of some of the songs seemed to dilute her vocals. However 'Blue Jeans' and 'Born To Die' were standouts, suiting her sultry style. While set closer 'Off To The Races' veered into more contemporary pop territory, an area that she'd do well to avoid given the current slew of high calibre female popstars. Her carefully calibrated niche lends itself to slow burners, such as 'Million Dollar Man', itself performed with admirable ease mid-set.
In spite of any criticisms this was a performance full of positives, during songs Del Rey looks and sounds the part, holding her own when the music fades away is something that can grow on a performer. With an album release on the horizon, focusing less on Lana Del Rey the icon and more on Lana Del Rey the artist is now her most important task.
A star in the making. Lana Del Rey is going to be big, very big. You don't have to be Private Detective Milton Arbogast to work that one out.