Strangely, it takes a ballad to make this set truly fire
Arrive four minutes from the end of Lorde’s final night appearance at Primavera Sound and you’d think you’ve just missed a spectacular pop show. The New Zealander is playing ‘Green Light’ and canons shoot confetti high into the night sky as 20,000 people, who’ll shortly get restless watching Arctic Monkeys play their old stuff kind of in the style of their new stuff, collectively lose their minds.
But that’s not the story of Lorde’s debut at the Barcelona festival at all. It’s almost 12 months on now from the Glastonbury performance – complete with a transparent hydraulic box – that ushered in her second album ‘Melodrama’. That show was exceptional: Lorde mixing high-concept theatrics with genuine personality.
This, then, is the slightly scaled-down show she’s been touring since, transplanted into the festival environment. Made up of Lorde, two synth players and a drummer, who she doesn’t really acknowledge, a big screen used infrequently and six backing dancers. And, honestly, the first half an hour isn’t great. After Kate Bush is piped through the PA she arrives on a stage flooded in blue light. ‘Sober’ and ‘Homemade Dynamite’, suffering from a less-than-pumping volume, struggle to establish any kind of momentum. “For the next hour and a half, you’re in my house,” she says before playing ‘Tennis Courts’, “and in my house we dance.” Some people dance.
The struggle continues. Her backing dancers pick her up during ‘The Louvre’ as she lies flat raised up in their arms. It’s cheesy and she looks uncomfortable as if she’d quite like to get down. She even covers a bit of Frank Ocean’s ‘Lost’.