Concert review: Lorde, Vector Arena

By Chris Schulz

7 comments

Even with a free ticket giveaway, there are few 16-year-olds with the pulling power to pack 5000 people into Vector Arena.

There are even fewer who could open a show by pretending to be a giant religious figure, rap their way through a cover of a macho Kanye West song, and dismiss encores as "lame" - and get away with it.

But as she has been proving since the release of The Love Club EP a year ago - with its hit single Royals currently sitting at No. 8 in the US charts - Lorde isn't like other teens.

For one, there's that dynamo voice of hers, a stop-you-in-your-tracks stunner which, at her biggest New Zealand show yet, sounded even better live than on record.

Opening tonight's show with Bravado, Lorde owned the event - an iHeartRadio promotional concert also featuring dubstep bullies Mt Eden - within seconds thanks to her soaring vocals, ethereal presence and that attention grabbing hook: "When the lights come on I'll be ready for this."

Yep, just as she's been doing to charts, radio stations and magazine covers all over the world, Lorde completely and utterly stole the show.

Amazingly, she seemed more confident and at ease in front of 5000 people than at a showcase for around 200 industry types held in Auckland last week.

"This is ridiculous," she told the crowd, performing her hits Tennis Court and Royals like the classics they already are, as well as unveiling new tracks from her debut album Pure Heroine - due later this month - that already feel fully formed and ready to rule the airwaves.

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They included the superior swing of potential next single White Teeth Teens, the summery rave-pop of Buzzcut Season, the ridiculous maturity of Ribs ("It feels so scary getting old," she sings at one point) and an unnamed track that included the line: "I'm little but I'm coming for ya".

What's scary is just how informed Lorde's new songs are, spanning everything from distorted southern hip-hop to witch-house sub-bass, Florence and the Machine-style theatrics and classic 60's doo-wop with ease.

Then there's those nervous giggles between songs that should get annoying. Opening her show as a religious figure, a shadowy presence behind a giant white sheet surrounded by church imagery, should be a warning sign. Telling the crowd that she doesn't do encores because "they're kind of lame" should smack of arrogance.

And she shouldn't have been able to pull off that Kanye cover, two minutes of Yeezus standout Hold My Liquor - sample lyric: "I can't control my bitches, and these bitches they can't control me" - that she bumped, grinded and rapped her way through with a knowing twinkle in her eye.

But, like everything Lorde did tonight, she nailed it, coming across at every moment like the emerging empress of pop that she's being billed as.

"She raps ... Oh my God," stuttered one starstruck teen after the show to a friend. Yep, and you can bet we won't be able to see her do it for free again.

iHeartRadio with Lorde and Mt Eden
Where: Vector Arena, Auckland
When: Saturday, September 7

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