Last week, at the Sidney Meyer Music Bowl, roughly 10,000 people gathered in buzzy anticipation. Overhead, the sky deepened from rosy pink through to witchy mauve, a variation of enchantment every time you looked up, each so fitting for the mystical figure we were waiting to see. A pleasant breeze had overtaken the heat endured during line-up. It was forecasted to storm, and although I’d dutifully packed a raincoat, I knew if it did, I wouldn’t want to wear it. Dancing in a storm seemed too perfect, too timely (so naturally, it didn’t in the end).
Isn’t Melodrama characterisable by the recklessness of a thunder storm? Doesn't a storm align with the name, the emotions the album contains in spades and in turn derives from its listener? Lorde’s spirit scintillates on every track. Both distinctly ethereal and achingly human, Melodrama is a testament to her visionary talents and idiosyncratic perception. Her uncanny ability to encapsulate unquantifiable depth in a lyric. These are songs that serve as portals to something cosmic; deliverances with an air of shiver-inducing clandestinity. As if to a late night conversation potent with eloquence, you listen and become a confidant: ushered into her secret world.
The night is a rapturous sweep of adrenaline, over far too soon. Lorde, clad in shimmery blue sequins, kicks the evening off with Homemade Dynamite, hailed by a delighted communal roar. Non-Melodrama performances include Magnets (her 2015 collaboration with Disclosure), Ribs, Team, Royals and A World Alone. Her guitarist is summoned to assist with a sultry rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, knitting in verses from 400 Lux. I sing-shout every ingrained lyric, dancing as fervidly as my pocket of standing space will allow.
Lorde's stage presence is definitively hypnotic. She accentuates words with signature air-punches and arm movements, looking apt to cast a spell. You are under her spell. And it’s so clear she’s having fun. Her passion radiates. It’s transparent on her face, which contorts to Melodrama's personal weight, her voice as ensnaring as on her records if not more so. When she takes a seat and talks to the audience, the crammed arena stills into intimacy. “This year has been so…” she grapples for the word for a moment. "Fluorescent."
"I sip the drink, I lie to you, I go to secret worlds…" I hurriedly typed the words into my phone as I heard them, a voiceover accompanying footage like a dream-sequence that materialised on the dual screens during costume changes: flowers bursting into bloom, a redheaded duo splashing lazily in a pool, shaky shots of Lorde’s eyes fixed to yours. A clear nod to summer, a recurring reference on the album: debuting with the first lovestruck line of The Louvre, mentioned again during supercharged heart-crusher Hard Feelings/Loveless, and later in the vulnerable lull of Liability. She states: "We are guided and divided by love. I want to see it, in colour. In the summer, I feel it." ♫