Pop star and New Zealand native Lorde (Ella Yelich-O’Connor) returns to Manchester for a long-awaited show at Victoria Warehouse, five years after enthralling crowds with the opening date of her Melodrama tour at the O2 Apollo.
For her Solar Power Tour, Lorde has crafted a true spectacle: a two-hour set which just the right balance of floor-fillers and softer moments, and a sprinkle of between-songs banter that will win her audience over immediately. Arguably she should be playing arenas, so it feels somewhat lucky to be seeing her in a big, but equally intimate, venue.
The staging is impressive: a giant sundial-cum-staircase atop a circular drum. For opening song ‘Leader of a New Regime’, which I must add seemed an odd choice given it’s a slightly more sombre effort, she stands behind the drum – a singing silhouette.
Lorde utilises the staircase throughout her set: sometimes her band stand in linear formation atop it, sometimes she sits, chin in hand and contemplative during emotionally intense songs like ‘Liability’, other times the staircase and drum revolve, indicating the time of day, the dimming lights, the mood.
It’s unusual to describe an artist who only has three full length LPs as performing a ‘greatest hits’ set, but it’s true. After the success of her sophomore Melodrama, Lorde has garnered a loyal fanbase who will echo every word she sings.
The show is split into four acts, with an encore made up exclusively of material from 2013’s Pure Heroine, namely breakout single ‘Royals’, along with ‘400 Lux’ and ‘Team.’
Stage lights beam in pastel hues for the Solar Power songs, then radiate a neon spectrum for Melodrama’s tracks.
Lorde swivels her hips, sways from side to side, and really throws herself into each song. There’s a real sense of catharsis, particularly during ‘Hard Feelings’ which she precedes with a speech: “My whole song writing career is based on trying to pin down a moment that feels crazy in my body.”
An abbreviated version of ‘Loveless’ follows a few songs later but feels slightly misplaced not succeeding ‘Hard Feelings.’ Still, the track holds its own as fans echo each letter of the song’s title in unison.
Tender moments from Solar Power such as ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ and ‘Fallen Fruit’ shine tonight too, with Lorde asking, “Are you ready to cry?” before the former.
Interludes from her trusty band, who don beige suits and nonchalant expressions, enable Lorde to leave the stage for brief moments in order to change costume. She begins in a loose white shirt and black pants, ever so business-like, then changes into a brown two piece, and finally a pink satin bandeau and baggy cargo-like trousers.
The vibes exuded by her music are reflected throughout the room: girls in lilac and yellow flowing summer dresses evoke the aesthetic of her ‘Solar Power’ music video.
She admits to suffering from “crippling stage fright” which is difficult to believe because she looks so at ease as she moves around the floor, an air of confidence and self-assuredness. She compares each show on her tour to a tinder date, quipping “Maybe someone will fall in love with me.”
She draws attention to a fan in need, ushering security to help them… “This is a safe environment. We’re all your friends.” Later in the set she’ll cocoon herself in a progress pride flag, much to the audience’s delight. ‘Ribs’, which Lorde wrote when she was just 15, and ‘Supercut’ offer moments of upbeat energy and exuberance also.
There’s something extremely authentic about Lorde. After a brief period of retirement (hiatus) she returned with an album which polarised fans and critics alike after breaking new ground with Melodrama.
Notably absent from the setlist are 2017’s ‘The Louvre’ and ‘Writer in the Dark’, the latter of which recently went viral in what is now known affectionately amongst fans as Shushgate.
A burst of golden confetti explodes from the stage, showering down upon the audience during the breakdown of ‘Solar Power’, sparking a moment of pure joy. Meanwhile, Melodrama’s lead single ‘Green Light’ dazzles, as Lorde jumps about on stage, pointing her microphone to the crowd as they sing its refrain back to her.
Make no mistake, Lorde is an exceptional performer. From celestial singalongs, heart-wrenching balladry, and infectious danceable grooves, to looking out for fans’ safety and really building a rapport with her audience through confessional chat and city-specific references. Lorde’s live show are not to be missed.
Head Music Editor @ The Mancunion. Freelance Music and Culture Writer @ DIY, The Line of Best Fit, Gigwise, etc. Avid gig-goer and alt-rock enthusiast! Twitter: @tayl0rsarah LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-taylor-48a562211/