Surprisingly, New Yorker Lana del Rey is a big fan of Liverpool, both the football team (who knew?) and the place, which is maybe why she chose it for one of only two shows she is performing on her flying visit to the UK.
The anticipation is palpable, as the audience, mostly consisting of young girls, many wearing flower head-dresses giving the impression of a parade of bridesmaids, file in, barely speaking a word.There is no support; there is no need for one. Indeed, it would ruin the atmosphere to have another act spoiling the ambience which has descended on the arena.
All of a sudden, the stage lights up, with Lana appearing beneath a ‘del Rey’ neon sign. This is answered by thousands of phone lights flashing from the crowd like a swarm of fireflies.
Opening with “Body Electric” from her 2012 EP, she is immediately welcomed with open arms by her adoring fans.
Del Rey’s songs are inevitably compared to a David Lynch film soundtrack, but her music is undoubtedly atmospheric. It makes her audience feel like they are in a film of Lana’s making and they give themselves up to her gothic vision.
From the start, the crowd are singing along and already know the words to the new songs she includes in the set. Many are in tears, overcome by the emotion of the songs and the sense of occasion.
Dressed in a simple black top and jeans, albeit teamed with killer heels that could be confiscated as a lethal weapon, and a luxuriant bouffant, she lets her voice do the talking. There are dancers to do the moving around, although they are hardly any distraction from her hypnotic performance, sometimes reminiscent of Hope Sandoval. There are screens showing videos of motorcycles, roses, film stars and prostitutes, scenes of Americana, but all eyes are on Lana.
An a capella version of “Love” from Lust For Life is incorporated into the set. It began as an impromptu effort at Brixton Academy, when her band hadn’t rehearsed the song and the audience were clamouring for it. It is a magnificent performance and impressive that she can hold the entire arena in the palm of her hand with just her voice.
Lana doesn’t talk much, just acknowledging the audience with a few brief words, but makes up for it by coming down from the stage to walk among the ecstatic crowd.
She ends with an extended version of “Off to the Races” from her second album Born to die, and there is no encore. She slips away with a wave, a true modern star, simply mesmerising her audience with her haunting presence.
Words by Denise Hodgkinson, press shot courtesy of Lana‘s team.