Review: Lana Del Rey live at the Glasgow SECC
I am a huge Lana fan and bought my ticket for this show in the pre-sale as soon as they were released back in November, even so I’ve never been entirely sure what to expect from it. The videos I have watched of her performing live have varied from straight up good in a ‘normal’ way to idiosyncratic but wonderful to (being polite) endearingly shonky so I had braced myself somewhat for her being charming but possibly hit and miss. She has also often appeared terribly nervous live and I was worried how she would fare playing her first proper tour after previously having played small venues like Oran Mor - and that was *before* they moved it from the mid sized venue I was already slightly concerned about being too big for her to the even bigger SECC.. I was *this* close to not going when it it was first announced because I was completely convinced she would be dwarfed by such a large, characterless venue never mind the kind of transient, usually drunk crowds that always seem more prevalent at arenas..
Let’s just say I’m very, very glad I was talked out of it.
Whether it’s down to her live performances getting better, her being more comfortable playing to ‘her’ crowd, having a really good sound system with her voice way up in the mix or a combination of all of these things she absolutely tamed the venue with no problem at all - and it’s worth pointing out that we were up in the bleachers so it’s not a front-row only perspective.
It definitely helped that the stage had a lovely trptych / boudoir set which along with good lighting and beautiful, thematic backdrop videos playing throughout the show gave a nice visual boost and set an evocative atmosphere, allowing her to concentrate on singing with it to frame her.
However, I was also surprised by how warm her stage presence was and how much she interacted with her fans. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else sign autographs one-handed whilst singing and still looking totally composed and elegant before! Not to mention her going round the entire front row at the end - but more of that later..
There was also that lovely feeling you get sometimes of watching an artist at that point where they are first realising how successful they are now.
Far from being patchy or disappointing I loved every moment of the show and it flew past too quickly. I will without a doubt go and see her again.
Blow by Blow
Opening / Cola
The moment I saw the cool blue curtains with the silhouettes of palm trees swaying on them I felt I was beamed straight into one of her songs, even more so when they were pulled back to reveal the full set. Palm trees, stone lions, a huge golden triptych style frame, a string quartet and a luxurious golden chandelier.
Only Lana could open a show after a 5 minute, dramatic instrumental build up with the line ‘my pussy tastes like pepsi cola’ and get away with it. Great choice for an opener and within a verse I knew EVERYTHING WOULD BE OK.
Body Electric / Blue Jeans
Body electric had some great backdrops with the Elvis / Marilyn / Jesus lyric as the jumping off point and this was when I realised how well the show was going to use those visual elements too.
Blue Jeans was the first song where you could really hear the audience singing every word and she seemed genuinely quite bowled over by it.
Born To Die
This was the first real show stopper for me and after a slightly nervous looking start (the first line of that song always seems to give her the fear for some reason) blossomed into an absolutely beutiful number.
Carmen is my second least favourite of her songs (Diet Mountain Dew is the first) and I generally skip it but I did enjoy it much more live. Still, there are other songs I would have rather heard.
Just mesmerising and lit, of course, completely in blue. I’m a sucker for a good cover and this was wonderful. She also sung a fabulous bit of Knockin’ on Heaven’s door at one point but I’m having trouble remembering exactly when..
After torturing us by wondering out loud whether to play Gods & Monsters or American she settled on American. Gods & Monsters is my favourite of her songs so I was slightly gutted we didn’t get both (especially when she did Carmen) but American is a big favourite of mine too so the wound was immediately salved. It also eneded with her singing the words ‘like a Glaswegian’ which was.. surreal.
Without You / Young and Beautiful
Both of these were great and Y&B was clearly hugely popular with the crowd. I wasn’t much of a fan of the song when it first came out but it’s grown on me and seeing it live has cemented that.
Ride / Summertime Sadness
The spoken word intro video for Ride was played on the screens giving her a break offstage and setting the mood for arguably her ‘best’ song to date. She always sings this well I’ve noticed and last night was no exception. It’s such a powerful song and I found myself ‘pure greetin’ (as they say in the weedge) through the second half of Ride and most of Summertime Sadness. I do have a tendency to howl at these kind of things so take it with a pinch of salt but I did find her performance in general pretty emotional and moving throughout the night.
Burning Desire / Video Games
The backdrop for Burning Desire was this rather heady, pulsing redness and it was all a bit hot under the collar for three and a half minutes. Video Games was another big singalong moment and oddly joyous for such a melancholic song.
The song itself was fabulous and the perfect closer (there was no encore) being as it is quite uplifting for a Lana song but, for me, one of the most interesting parts of the evening came after she finished singing as she descended to the crowd and made her way, signing autographs and taking photos with, it seemed, every person in the front row while the band played out an instrumental string version of the song. All through this there was this wonderful grainy, black and white footage of it being shown on the screens.
I’m not cynical enough to believe she didn’t genuinely want to give something back to her fans but it was also one of the most effective moments of self mythologising I’ve witnessed. It was like being in a room with living, breathing vintage footage of a Hollywood star disembarking graciously at an airport and I couldn’t help thinking ‘how Lana, how perfect, how good is this going to look on the DVD..’
The crib notes
Don’t expect dance routines and costume changes but do expect to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with Lana.