When I was 17, all I had to show for myself was a half-decent GPA and the mediocre tan from lifeguarding. Musical sensation Lorde, on the other hand, has rocked shows around world — most recently in Columbus.
Her debut Columbus performance Tuesday evening was for a packed Lifestyle Communities Pavilion downtown with Majical Cloudz opening the evening.
Majical Cloudz might have started the show, but by their stage presence, it didn’t look like they knew it.
The two came out awkwardly, plainly mumbling that they were there to “play some music.” I thought they were joking, but luckily, I was proven wrong.
Devon Welsh, the lead singer of the Canadian duo, brought amazing vocal talent to the stage. Complemented only by a very stripped down synthesizer, his voice was left largely to stand on its own.
Majical Cloudz’s somber vibe — which reminded me a little bit of Fleet Foxes or Sam Smith — made me curious to see how they would be able to hold on through an entire set.
The slow, folk-like jam captured the attention of the pit, and although the crowd in the lawn seemed less interested, Majical Cloudz was able to keep a strong beat going throughout the pavilion. Songs like “Childhood’s End” and “Turns Turns Turns,” were able to bring more intricate musical variations to a mostly somber and unhurried set.
When Lorde — born Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor — came out to the audience’s screams, it brought back memories of concerts past — although this time, without the plethora of bras thrown on the stage.
Coming out with her classic, awkward hand motions to bright white lights and sporting a white and black outfit, her stage presence seemed fitting for her musical attitude. Lorde isn’t someone with a huge band or crazy theatrical show, she’s just a girl with her music. The escalation of the concert, however, was both unexpected and impressive.
Color was slowly added in the lighting, building from the white light and contrasting shadows. First, a light blue and green were added, crescendoing into a more intense light show with deep reds, purples and blues. More effects were added throughout the night, such as a fog and bubble machine, and it seemed as if the stage crew was throwing everything it could to keep up with Lorde’s intensifying performance.
“Tennis Court” provided the first glimpse into this acceleration and was a great showcase of vocal talent. The performance of the song reassured me of her skill at a live concert.
If you watched without sound, her dance moves seemed like flashy pop star meets teenager jamming out in her bedroom. She was all over the place and extremely into the performance, often doubling over while singing. This physical movement, juxtaposed with Lorde’s more laidback lyrics, was interesting to watch and proved how excited she was for her performance.
Listening to a recorded version of “Buzzcut Season” now seems disingenuous after hearing it performed live at the concert. Seeing and hearing it live was an amazing window into just how intricate the vocal timing and instrumental rhythm in the song are and how great they are when it comes together.
I never imagined that Lorde’s relaxed musical style could get a crowd moving and shaking like it did Tuesday night, but the bass and musical intensity seemed to move just fast enough to make things work. The crowd moved in a slower, but more deliberate way, relying less on fast mixes of sound being thrown together and more on intricate skill.
Despite the huge crowd, Lorde said she felt warmth and welcome Tuesday night.
“All of you came out to be my friend for the night. I feel like I know you guys, you have this brightness in your eyes,” Lorde said.
She quickly added, “I promise I’ll stop talking soon, I know you want to hear music.”
Toward the end of the night, after a brief moment of blacking out the stage, Lorde came out to gold lights and a flowing red cape for “Royals,” capturing the imagery of the song perfectly.
In a bold move, she opened the song with only her voice and the bass playing in the background. It made for an intimidating intro, and an interesting, minimalist take on the well-known song. As the song progressed, full instrumentals were added, enhancing the fun and excitement throughout the entire venue.
Immediately transitioning into “Team,” Lorde upped the ante by turning the entire LC into an absolutely massive light and instrumental exhibition, releasing confetti everywhere and simultaneously destroying the simple image she started with on stage.
While I wouldn’t have minded an encore, there was something that felt right when Lorde ended the show in an honest way. She just seemed too clean cut to try to trick her audience — not dramatic enough to want her name shouted a million times just for one more song.
Instead, she told us it was going to be over, and she ended it leaving everybody on a good note.
Although it’s not a typical tactic, the honesty and distinctiveness will be something in which will stick in my mind forever.