Lorde – Shepherd’s Bush Empire

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Why this gig?

I saw Lorde on Jools Holland’s show last year and loved her. I started listening to her album as soon as it was released – and loved that too. I was disappointed when she announced a show at the Brixton Academy on 6th June as I already had tickets for a gig on that night. But then she announced this show for the night before – which made me happy.

Support

Initially, Lo-Fang is one chap with a guitar, a violin and a loop pedal. You know the kind of thing – Ed Sheeran has made it really popular. Three years ago, it seemed cutting edge, but it’s all got a bit tired now. But on the second song he’s joined by a couple more musicians and it gets a bit more interesting. I enjoyed them.

Headline

Lorde takes the stage alone. She’s in front of a black gauze with what look like large church candles glowing through it. Dressed in a black suit and a white shirt, she launches into “Glory and Gore”. Sometimes she stalks the stage like a panther; at other times it’s all gawky teenage dancing. She spends a lot of the time doubled over with her long hair covering her face.

But it’s mesmerising. Although she’s only seventeen, she has an incredible stage presence and she draws the audience into her performance.

After the first song, the gauze drops to reveal the band. Or, rather, the two musicians (keyboard and drums) who provide the minimalist backing to her lyrics. They do it well, but no-one takes much notice of them. Everyone is totally captivated by Lorde herself.

Much of the set is familiar to anyone who knows the album. There are a few other songs. I later learn that a couple of these are cover versions and a couple come from an obscure early EP (if something that was released a year ago can ever be described as either obscure or early). The highlight is, of course, “Royals” which gets all of the crowd singing along.

If I had one slight criticism it would be that there were backing vocals but no backing vocalists. This is particularly evident on “Royals” where the backing vocals sound a lot like Lorde herself. When you make it so obvious that some of the performance is on tape then cynics in the audience might start to wonder just how much is pre-recorded.

There’s no encore. After “A World Alone” everyone leaves the stage and the house lights come up. It’s a slightly jarring end to the evening. But the rest of the evening was great.

On the way home, I found myself thinking about Tanita Tikaram. She was another teenager who was thrown into the limelight following a crtically acclaimed debut album. Sadly, she wasn’t able to follow through and sank largely without trace. I really hope that Lorde doesn’t meet the same fate.

The set list is on setlist.fm.

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