Lorde's Melodrama World Tour: The Ethereal Experience
BY MAYA GEORGI
Few experiences are as impactful as that of seeing an album, a song, and an artist all of which shook you to your core once -- live and in person. On Wednesday, April 7th, at the Barclays Center, I was able to fully enjoy this experience and let it transcend me to a whole other emotional and physical place. I’m referring to none other than Lorde’s presentation of the Melodrama World Tour.
In an entertaining way, the concert definitely met my expectations. The lights were astounding and perfectly placed with the right transition between songs. Moments which begged for a spotlight on the star of the show, Lorde, delivered them tastefully. Different lights and screen visuals appealed to the senses and set the stage for the partying atmosphere while still bringing along the chaos and complexity of the album. There were vibrant glow sticks, breathtaking choreography, and boastful screens of cryptic messages. The best of the visuals was undoubtedly a transparent, neon-light lined box which Lorde got into towards the later end of the show and floated above the first few rows of the audience in a graceful manner. The powerful energy of the show, though, did not rely on the usual gimmicks of lights and visuals, but rather weighed upon the beauty of the artwork being presented and the ability of Lorde to share it in a magnificent way.
Melodrama is an album that is difficult to sum up in one sentence. However, Lorde was able to give a good explanation about the work in its entirety: "I had written this body of work about love, and youth, and permanence and impermanence." One thing is for sure, this album changed my life in a completely unexpected way because of all the differing topics it covered. It had this strange force that made me believe everyone else in that Brooklyn arena held the same opinion and feelings towards the album. Sure, the excitement that Lorde had finally delivered after three years was clearly there. After all, Pure Heroin had a definite impact on my adolescence and those of her most loyal fans. But there was always the possibility that Lorde would not be able to deliver and fall into the dismal sophomore slump. She is, in fact, human and only a mere 21. This was, of course, not the case.
Melodrama, as often reported upon, holds a transformative power to create a great impact on the listener while holding the astounding ability to harness youth, heartbreak, growing up, and messing up all in a classic and unique manner. Of course, this power comes from the synesthetic nature of Lorde, herself, and the artistic brilliance which seems to bleed perfectly from her fingertips. Perhaps this power can also be attributed to Jack Antonoff and his genius production skills throughout the album. Either way, it all works in an ethereal way that makes Melodrama come out from beyond the speaker, the headphones, the laptop and live beside you. Or at least, that was my experience.
Melodrama is definitely a break-up album. And I was three months fresh from a break-up during its June release. Though this undoubtedly drew a deep connection between me and Lorde's new music, it did not stop there. Just like myself at the time, the album is not overwhelmed by heartbreak. It also holds the madness of growing up and partying in a masterful and relatable way for the accuracy it portrays in lyric and sound.
A majority of the songs place listeners inside the wild parties Lorde attended in the last three years. Somehow, though, it all seems like one big party with all the various, complicated aspects of a party existing in each track. Lorde even sings, "Maybe all this is the party" on "Liability (Reprise)." Lorde didn't perform this song on tour, but the emotion behind that lyrical idea flooded the arena that Wednesday night. This: dancing, belting, and laughing with friends and strangers over our youth (real or imagined) and connecting to the music on another level, knowing very well that responsibility beckoned us the next morning -- this was the party of life. Every dance move, every note, and every light show performed on that stage just further drove the idea in. But, since it was a Lorde concert, this was not any typical party.
Lorde exhibited the rough parts of a party, the heavy moments where heartbreak, loneliness, and sadness resurface amongst all the fun. In some ways, she portrayed the emotions of an afterparty. During the middle of the show, no doubt in order to cool down from her erratic dance moves and delivering of upbeat songs, Lorde slowed things down and stripped herself emotionally. In "Hard Feelings," a song about the crucial moment after a break-up right before the finality of that decision, Lorde got down on her knees and sang the most moving lyrics of that heart-wrenching song. That moment made me so grateful for the vulnerability that Lorde exhibited in front of her fans. She was not scared to bare it all -- all the emotion behind the art she had created.
In a moment before performing "Liability," Lorde even noted this need for vulnerability in Brooklyn that night. "I can't hide from you New York," she said on stage, referring to the fact that this is where Melodrama was created. The audience knew the destruction, the horror, the drama, and all of the soul that Lorde had stripped from herself to breed something out in Jungle City and into the world. We had seen her mend her broken heart on the subway and then write about it and finally showcase these songs in front of us. Perhaps that is what made the concert so powerful, this connection.
Obviously, the slower songs were the ones with more emotional weight and Lorde showed that. Her performance of "Writer in the Dark" was something I'd never experienced before in the 50 concerts I've been to prior. Maybe it was the relatable lyrics and my identity as a writer, but in that stadium it felt like a whole lot more. Beside me, I could see my friends who are not writers, impacted by Lorde's introductory speech of "Writer in the Dark" and then her performance. Before "Writer in the Dark," Lorde made it a point to introduce the song, which she did not always do with other ones during the concert. In her speech, Lorde discussed the creative process of the song:
"I'd sort of been talking to people about it and they were kinda like, "don't you feel bad...kinda immortalizing everyone we know in this way?" And I remember thinking fuck that. You have to be whatever it is that you were meant to be. There is no other life. You have to be the vivid dreamer, you have to be the over-reactor, you have to be the hopeless romantic, you have to be the writer…"
The whole stadium responded by waving the flashlights from their phones and creating a glow around Barclays Center. In that moment, it was clear that Lorde's words truly resonated with everyone because she was absolutely right: life is about feeling all of the emotions that come with this complex experience and doing so unapologetically. The heartbreak must be felt and felt loudly as should the glory, the joy, the loneliness, and any other conceivable emotion.
Some other unforgettable moments from the concert included the enormously talented Jack Antonoff coming out and surprising the audience. As previously stated, Antonoff helped produce Melodrama and has collaborated with Lorde on other projects as well. The dynamic duo gifted the audience with a beautiful rendition of St. Vincent's genius song, "New York." Another great moment was when Lorde mistakenly kicked off one of her sneakers during a dance move and unabashedly followed suit with kicking the other one off too, eventually throwing both shoes in the crowd. Lorde's complete disregard of societal norms in that instance, daring to dance barefoot and free and engaging in a miniscule decision seemed to exhibit something bigger: choosing happiness and life, in all of its horror and beauty. The best part of this act was how natural it appeared and how perfectly it fit with what she had said earlier.
In sum, at the Melodrama World Tour, I felt all of the emotions -- every single one that Lorde tried to tackle on the album. And I think that was Lorde's point. To feel the jealousy, love, madness, sadness, nostalgia, joy -- all the parts of this messy thing we call life and to do so with every fiber in our being. What other way is there to live?
Lead Image Credit: Chad Batka / Instagram