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How Lorde Delivered ‘Melodrama’ Live Under A Purple Sky

Written By Sam Murphy on 11/27/2017

I was hungover yesterday. Tainted by a blurry night in a Melbourne cathedral. I didn’t intend to see Lorde that way but it almost felt like it was meant to be. Much of my time spent with Lorde‘s 2017 record Melodrama has been in a somewhat hazy state. There’s a passion for the night before and an understanding of the morning after (“cleaning up the champagne glasses,” as she puts it) that makes it so poignant for 20-somethings. It soundtracks the memories of the night before, both good and bad, so vividly and she brings that same feeling to life with her live show.

In Melbourne on Sunday night, under a sky that was strangely purple, Lorde held off a storm with a near-perfect set that celebrated the party and went deep on the reflective moments. Preceded by a thundering reel of dramatic news stories, she glided onto the stage with Melodrama‘s biggest pop moment Homemade Dynamite, moving across the stage with elongated movements. This was never going to be a subtle evening. She told us this was melodrama after all and that’s exactly what she delivered. Accentuating the “boom” of Homemade Dynamite, she pulled the starting gun on the night and let us into her luminescent world.

The night was about Melodrama but Lorde never shied away from Pure Heroine. Rather, she analysed it in hindsight, almost as if to answer the questions she posed as an awkward 16 year-old on the brink of pop stardom. Before the pulsating highlight Ribs she said it’s about her fear of getting old adding, “5 years later I think everything’s going to be alright.”

That’s exactly what differentiates Pure Heroine and Melodrama. Melodrama celebrate the imperfections and casts happy shadows on the notion of perfection with joy, despair, sadness and giddiness. Perhaps that’s exactly what bound the Melbourne audience below the purple sky yesterday. There was nothing perfect about the night. A storm threatened to ruin it and it took nearly an hour to find an Uber afterwards but for that hour and a half we were in Lorde’s world and it was glorious.

Under warbling bass, Hard Feelings carried a careful restraint that exploded with Lorde’s trademark jolty dance moves which was blown up even further by the flaring horns of Sober. She gave us spoken word interludes with visuals Wes Anderson would be proud of, providing an artistic extension of Melodrama‘s notions rather than an explanation.

From there, Lorde softened the drama somewhat, soundtracking giddy crushes while girls around us screamed to The Louvre. That wobbling drop truly is the heart beat of Lorde’s live set and it sounded spectacular echoing around the amphitheatre. She perched on a box for Liability telling tales of loneliness as she brought everyone figuratively closer. It was a hushed, emotional moment needed to compliment the grandiose showings and she created the intimacy effortlessly. A cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire and the sweeping strings of Sober II (Melodrama) further pulled the venue closer and tighter.

While a Lorde show is unifying, it’s interesting to see the way the crowd responds. Young fans gasped and giggled to lines about crushes while 20-something lit up about, “another night spent of our faces.” While her songs are so specific to her, the way she forms her live show, from the dancers to the short spiels in between songs, makes it about everyone. She knows her discoveries about crushes and heartbreak aren’t groundbreaking but the way she communicates it is.

The third part of the show was specifically made for dancing. It captured the essence of celebrating through the heartbreak, appropriated from Robyn’s infallible pop handbook. Supercut soared as the lights euphorically flickered while Perfect Places seemed to round-up the night’s takeaways with that hopeless yet intoxicating chorus. Supercut‘s “wild and fluorescent” lyric does a better job of describing the night than we ever really could.

Melbourne was the last stop of the tour and she was feeling nostalgic and hungry. You could tell by the way she ramped up the crowd for Green Light as if we’d have to do it again if she wasn’t satisfied with the way it closed off her tour. There was no need for a rerun though because it packed a punch greater than any pop moment this year. That key-driven bridge raced around the amphitheatre and the chorus threw hands in the air effortlessly as confetti splayed through the air. She’s successfully made personal heartbreak the most triumphant moment of 2017 and it was never clearer than it was as the bright green lights replaced the purple-coloured sky. She ran back on-stage momentarily for a solo performance of Loveless but she’d well and truly already won by then.

Today, I’m not hungover. I’m once again chasing a Homemade Dynamite night of blurry antics, only to follow it with a morning of Liability-level fragility. Lorde’s the only one that makes me appreciate both.