Lorde | Credit: Lars Roy

Lorde Review – Pop Star Illuminates Her Multitudes at Sydney ‘Solar Power’ Show

Lorde played at Aware Super Theatre, Sydney, on Tuesday, 14th March. David James Young reviews.

Ten years ago, a shy and pale teenager from New Zealand with a mane of curly brown hair who admitted to looking “like gollum when I perform” shared a minimalist pop song decrying materialism and casually turned the pop world on its head. In Sydney, we watched the whole thing unfurl in real time – first with a show at the dearly-departed Goodgod Small Club, then the Metro, and then on the Opera House Forecourt. Now, after a near six year wait, Lorde has returned to the first city she ever played outside of Aotearoa.

The show she’s returned with is the 26-year-old’s most ambitious production to date – a theatrical, three-act journey with copious moving parts. Think of it like a Gen Z American Utopia. Lorde has clearly taken some inspiration from David Byrne’s Broadway sensation, from the matching suits of her band to the motion-sensitive choreography they bring to the performance.

A cynic might view the show as Lorde asking if she can copy Byrne’s homework, especially considering his ‘Strange Overtones’ plays over the PA at the end of the show. But is there anything wrong with seeking guidance from one of the most influential artists of the last 40 years?

Lorde – ‘Big Star’

In the course of the performance, Lorde contrasts darkness and light, as well as distance and intimacy, giving each song a sense of place. She sits on her lonesome halfway up a rotating staircase during ‘Stoned At The Nail Salon’, her bandmates scattered around the stage, off in their own worlds. The whole ensemble is in formation during the electric ‘Supercut’, where Lorde busts out free-spirited dance moves and connects her energy directly with the masses of people on their feet.

Things go quiet and sparse during ‘Big Star’, one of many songs to implement shadows and lighting techniques to create a distinct ambience. The whole place glows during ‘Green Light’, its cheerleader chorus ricocheting off the walls as the brightness builds into a beautiful burn.

Credit: Lars Roy

It’s generally unwise to stare too long at the video screens during large shows such as this – it can begin to feel like watching a live DVD rather than an actual show. But kudos to the camera operators for capturing two crucial moments during the show, which stick around long after the theatre empties.

The first comes when Lorde performs her raw piano ballad ‘Liability’, in which she reckons with the prospect of never being loved for who she truly is. It hits home for one of Lorde’s many front-row devotees, who’s clasping onto the barrier for dear life, tears streaming from their closed eyes as they exhale every last word.

The second comes at the opposite end of the spectrum, when Lorde performs her joyous ‘Solar Power’. Another fan has come wearing a papier-mâché sun wrapped around their head, and they start beaming as soon as they realise it’s their time to shine.

These tableau moments are potent reminders of Lorde’s impact. She’s a shoulder to cry on, but she’s also the bestie with whom you’ve planned a beach getaway; she’s your confidant and your dance partner.

If ever Lorde doubts her ability to be a pop star, she need only think of moments like this – of shows like this – to take comfort in the knowledge that she has made a real difference.

Further Reading

Indy Yelich, Lorde’s Sister, Announces Debut EP And Shares New Single

Charli XCX Review – Ecstatic Devotion at “Tiny” Melbourne Gig

MUNA Review – Affection Goes Both Ways at LA Trio’s Sydney Headline Show

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