I went to see Lorde a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky enough to get tickets for the Leeds show on the Solar Power world tour when they originally went on sale a long time ago. Did they go on sale pre-COVID and then the show got rearranged, or was this one of the few shows recently that I booked, and that happened on the date it was originally supposed to? Who knows. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I went to the show. What matters is that it changed me.
In my second novel, Belonging (coming soon from SRL Publishing), there’s a few lines about music, and about hearing a song that changes your life. I’m a huge fan of Nick Hornby’s writing, in particular High Fidelity, in which music is perhaps the main supporting character (the film is also excellent – he’s been in some really shit films, but does John Cusack ever not turn in a great performance?). I’m pretty sure the only reason I went to uni in Manchester – though the decision was made a long time ago so the reasons are hazy – is that it was close enough to home to be visitable, far enough away from home that I had my independence; but mostly the fact Manchester is, and always has been, an amazing city for music.
Music is a huge part of my life. Can’t play any instruments, can’t sing or dance, but it’s a part of me regardless. Good music changes things. It transcends the form of notes and words, and becomes a feeling, a deeper meaning. Music isn’t just noise, it’s art of the highest form. Lorde is perhaps the current best iteration of this.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen her; I was lucky enough to see her play Radio 1’s Big Weekend when it was in Hull a few years ago. I also saw her on her last tour, playing at Manchester Apollo. Both of these shows were excellent, I really enjoyed them. But there was something different about this last show, in Leeds last month (May 2022). I’m going to try my best to describe it, but I already know I’m going to fail. After I have failed, I’ll describe the evening in one word, that will sum it up perfectly. Bear with me.
I haven’t always been a fan of Lorde; I’m not going to sit here and say Royals, upon its release, when Lorde herself was just 6, changed my life. Honestly, it’s only recently I’ve actually started to like the song. I have no idea what the first song of Lorde’s I heard that I liked was. But at some point in my past I did hear a Lorde song I liked, and that was that. The beginning of a wonderful relationship.
Ignoring that I wasn’t a huge fan of the song, Royals still epitomises what I love about Lorde. She’s young, she’s fiercely strong, she’s independent, and she’s amazing. I’ll always have a thing for strong women – perhaps because Hollywood and everyone else, whilst I was growing up, told me they didn’t exist, so I enjoy their existence as a ‘fuck you’ to certain media types – and Lorde is perhaps the strongest. She’s 25, and on her third album. And it’s not like she rushes them out. Royals came out nearly a decade ago. I’m pretty sure when I was 16 I was still too into Pokemon to have even discovered girls. I was not going to be a worldwide best seller. (Still time though – please go buy my books.)
The first 2 times I saw Lorde, it was just her alone on large stages. And she killed it. She had enough energy to be up and down the space, filling it not just with her physical presence, but her aura too. This most recent show, she had a stage built, and singers and musicians. It was awesome.
The set she was on was strange; it was a large circle, sort of like a human hamster wheel, with steps angled across the top of it. It rotated, which meant Lorde was alternately sitting in the circle, walking through it, climbing up and down the stairs, and sitting on these too. Lorde moves with such elegance and grace it’s less like she’s a human than she is a liquid. She’s like a cat, pouring herself from one position to the next, making it look effortless. I’m not normally big on choreography and theatrics, but Lorde absolutely nailed it.
Alongside this set decoration, her outfits were completely and utterly on point. She started in a trouser suit, jacket open, just a bra on. She then changed into a dress of sorts, before ending in a third outfit my terrible memory isn’t conjuring a picture of. Lorde is like most strong women; she’s equal parts sexy, beautiful, fierce, and angelic. I fell in love with Lorde, the way men fall in love with women, quite a lot during this show. I fell in love with Lorde, the way followers fall in love with cult leaders, a hell of a lot.
And then to the music. And oh my, isn’t Lorde’s music just incredible? She played all the classics from Pure Heroine, including bringing back Tennis Court to the live show. She played (almost) all the best songs from Melodrama, including Hard Feelings/Loveless, a 6 minute epic I never thought I’d be lucky enough to hear live (I’d have loved to have heard The Louvre live, but you can’t win them all).
With it being the Solar Power tour, she played a bunch of songs off that album too. Particularly Stoned at the Nail Salon, which is a song I love, because I think it shows Lorde’s power, not as a musician, but as a person. The very idea of the song, being stoned at the nail salon, shows to me a level of not giving a fuck that’s perfect. It isn’t a ‘what’s the point anyway?’ level of not giving a fuck. To me it screams ‘I’m chill and I’m happy’, and I hope that’s true. I hope Lorde is as chill and happy as her songs are, and as her shows are.
Has any of this made any sense? Well, whether it has or it hasn’t, here’s where I’ll sum the show up in one word. And that word is: vibes.
I could spend another 1,000 words writing about the show in many ways, or I could just sum it up succinctly in one sentence. The Lorde show at Leeds Academy in May 2022 was perfect, because the vibes were just spot on. The vibes were exactly right, and they allowed everything else to fall into place. Tour again soon, please, Lorde. I’ll be there.