It is with a television that 20-year-old Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor begins her Brighton show, the third stop on her Melodrama World Tour. As Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill fades from the venues speakers, the lights dim and the screen buzzes into life. Queue a slow-moving montage of Lorde’s face, interspersed with clips of glorious sporting victories and terrifying news segments. It is the dichotomy of this montage, its incomprehensibility, that is perhaps attempting to physically represent Lorde’s musical vision.
Her vision comprising of a deft lyricism which acutely captures the anxieties of growing up, with all its narcissism and heartbreak. Her music somehow managing to capture the idea of youth in an age of contradictions – where articles of body positivity and fad diets, scenes of reality television and global terrorism all appear side-by-side. It is for this reason that Lorde, and I will say this quite defiantly, is the voice of our generation. Now, while David Bowie famously said that Lorde ‘was the future of music’ she is not just the future, but here, strikingly in the present.
Her perceptive understanding of what it feels like to be young, told through specifically detailed lyrics that fill the music with sincerity and truth, is talent also shared by Lorde’s support act Khalid. Undeniably one of the hottest artists at the moment, Khalid made Rolling Stones ’10 New Artists You Should Know’ list in February while his debut album American Teen has been described as one of the best of the year. As he performs, his high-kicking dance moves rouse the crowd with a pulsating energy through tracks such as ‘Location’ and ‘Young, Dumb & Broke’ – a song which Lorde herself has described as ‘f*cking gorgeous’. It is the energetic aesthetic of his performance and confident ownership of the stage that shows that Khalid is a megastar in the making, if not one already.
Lorde’s set began, unexpectedly in my opinion, with Disclosure’s 2015 hit ‘Magnets’ a track in which she provided the vocals. This was then followed by ‘Tennis Courts’ the first track from her debut album Pure Heroine, it was then with the third track ‘Hard Feelings’ which finally gave the audience something from the new Melodrama album. It was with this style that the set list continued for the rest of the show, jumping back-and-forth between Lorde’s freshman and sophomore albums with tracks such as ‘Buzzcut Season’ and ‘Sober’.
The set appears to carefully balance both the playful and more serious sides of Lorde’s personality. For instance, at one point during the show she says to the audience ‘wait, let me try something’ before sitting on the ground, tapping out a tune on a tiny xylophone. It is only around thirty seconds in that the audience excitedly realise these are the opening notes to ‘Buzzcut Season’. While on the other hand Lorde introduces ‘Liability’, arguably the most melancholy track from Melodrama, with a sombre monologue - detailing how it feels to be ‘just a little too much for someone’.
It is after Lorde’s third costume change that the performance begins its final act. Lorde giving us energetic track after energetic track in the form of ‘Supercut’, ‘Perfect Places’, ‘Team’ and, of course, ‘Royals’ – much to the crowd’s ecstatic delight. The show ending with an exhilarating, heart stopping performance of this year’s smash hit ‘Green Light’, featuring an explosion of star-shaped confetti and green strobe lights.
As a joyous song about letting go and starting your life again, it almost feels that ‘Green Light’ brings Lorde’s music full circle. The subtle, and not so subtle, nihilism of her first album being juxtaposed so finely in with this track it almost makes one wonder where her music will head next. But Lorde is ever the observer of our contradictory, messed up, contemporary lives and regardless of where she goes, her fans, and I, will whole-heartedly follow.