It’s been five years since Lorde has been back to Melbourne. The world has changed but it’s clear that Melbourne’s love for the New Zealand singer-songwriter hasn’t.
Even if you’re not an avid Lorde fan, you know her song, ‘Royals’ at least. It went nine times platinum here, and you couldn’t escape it. No matter your opinion on her musical style, you can’t deny her talent.
When it comes to a venue and artist, I will go to my grave saying that a venue that doesn’t suit the artist might make or break a show, the sprawling lawns, and the open air of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl can sometimes cause a gig to feel disconnected and the disconnect can be so strong, some people stay seated on their picnic rug and others stand. No one was sitting on their picnic rug for Lorde.
The Solar Power Tour can be broken into three acts, songs from ‘Solar Power’ make up a majority of the setlist, but it seems that fan favourites from ‘Melodrama’ and ‘Pure Heroine’ have been perfectly spread throughout, making a show that feels intimate one moment and a dance party the next.
The focal point of the stage was a massive fulcrum that could rotate a full 360 degrees at its base and doubled as both a sundial and a stairway that would lead to the orb hanging above. The opening song, ‘Leader of a New Regime’ was sung in silhouette behind the circular base of the stairway. When Lorde emerged on stage to perform, ‘Homemade Dynamite’ she was dressed in a chic black pantsuit and bralette, giving her more than enough fabric for comfortable and dynamic dancing.
I found myself amazed by the level of detail in every aspect of this tour, things as simple as the colour of light fixtures, matching the colours of the stairs and base of the stage. Even the backing band was perfectly matched, wearing mustard coloured David Byrne style suits, motionless in their playing, almost part of the set.
Act Two opens with ‘The Path’ and a costume change, this time Lorde steps out in bejewelled floral dress with cut outs on the side, continuing the theme of costumes chosen for adequate spinning. Having already begun to open up to the audience about her life, it was ‘Ribs’ sitting on the stairway, looking out at 8 thousand people that she shared details about debilitating stage fright, being able to enjoy a day in Melbourne’s city, and spending some time in Fitzroy Gardens. The next songs all felt intimate, like she was singing or speaking to a small room. To witness an artist at her level, to wear her heart on her sleeve in that way is something I’ve never seen before.
Shaking off the emotional intensity of Act Two, in Act Three the crowd were invited to dance away their feeling as she stepped back onto the stage, wearing a sheer top with corset and billowing purple pants. As I already mentioned, continuing the pattern of spinning friendly outfits. This part of the concert consisted of songs from ‘Melodrama’ and ‘Pure Heroine’ which were featured most heavily, and the titular ‘Solar Power’.
The tempo had been completely ramped up for ‘Tennis Court’ and the energy continued to ‘Oceanic Feeling’ and watching Lorde spin and dance on stage, smiling ear to ear as her fans were singing her songs back to her, and then seeing her sing through her own smile was contagious.
Watching Lorde perform reminded me of something that I’ve forgotten which is that special connection created between an artist and their fans. Whether it be a smile that is shared, or the hands from a fan reaching at their beloved artist, these interactions weren’t one sided and it seemed like Lorde wanted these interactions just as much, if not more than her fans.
Given the size of Lorde’s fan base, it was beautiful to see so many people connected, strangers gathered and dancing together. It felt like a beautiful happy little community, think the movie ‘Midsommar’, just with less cult stuff.
Lorde is currently touring Australia as part of her Solar Power Tour. While her Melbourne shows are all done, she has two more shows in Sydney on March 13 and 14, and then ends her Australian leg in Perth on March 18.
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Photography by Valerie Lee.