Lana Del Rey played a sold-out show in Brixton Academy last night (July 24) to celebrate the release of her fourth studio album, Lust For Life.
Despite having made very few live appearances in the UK Del Rey claimed a special relationship with the city as it's where she wrote her breakthrough hit, 'Video Games'. "There's nowhere I'd rather be," she told the crowd, who were already eating from the palm of her hand before she even sang her first note.
The intense appreciation - articulated by the deafening roar in between songs - was not without just cause: the pop-noir star was spellbinding from the get-go.
Opener 'Cruel World', taken from the album Ultraviolence, showed off the guitar-oriented side of her band. This sound suited the look of the band and the rock 'n' roll bassist, guitarist and drummer evidently got right in the flow of things: the drummer even pulled out his metal horns at the end, which is not something a passive consumer of Del Rey's melancholic pop music singles would ever have anticipated.
The first new album track to get an airing was 'Cherry'. It's a cut that seems in line with her habit of romaniticising toxic relationships, so it fit succintly next to 'Cruel World'. Throughout this cut and the set in general, sultry dancers did a phenomenal job of embodying all of Del Rey's deepest feelings, and allowing the audience to sink deeper into her lyrics.
It was a journey through the hits after this, with ecstatic reactions, and the crowd singing along with her.
An improved version of the unreleased 'Serial Killer' sounded the most purposeful song of the set. The light show built in intensity, the backing singers were used to their full potential, and the arrangement was more challenging and inspired than a lot of the songs played.
'White Mustang' and 'In My Feelings' from the new album kept up the intensity before a stirring rendition of 'Ride' showed off the power of what stripping back this band to solely vocal and piano can do, albeit with minimal atmospherics from the other instruments as it went along.
'Love', the opening track from the new album, was a bit of a blunder - or possibly a staged blunder. She introduced it before realising the band weren't quite adept at playing it and so used it as an excuse to nail it a capella. This, inevitably, saw the biggest raising of smartphone screens since the opening song. Del Rey proceeded to cap things off with 'Off To The Races', leaving the crowd without an encore and the bright lights at 10pm. An hour had passed since she started.
If there is to be a criticism, then it’s that unless she brings with her the guests that appear on Lust For Life (A$AP Rocky, Sean Ono Lennon, The Weeknd, Stevie Nicks) or singers who can mimic the originals, then Lust For Life will remain an experience unique to the record. Sadly, this means that she won’t be able to bring to the stage the hip-hop or Beatles elements that excited us so much about the new record.
Nevertheless, an understanding that her performance will live independently of the album and that as these touring musicians spend more time together, the show is only going to go from strength to strength makes it only a small concern. We have little doubt that this will become the most critically acclaimed period of the singer's career, and the fans have only warmed to her more since Lust For LIfe. The most obvious example is knowing that many were out there from the early hours of the day in order to get their spot by the barrier. Some even paid in excess of £250 for the show from a tout.
Perhaps this is the beginning of a more sustained presence on the UK's live scene, too. She appeared comfortable on stage and said that she shouldn't leave it so long until her next London show. Maybe, after a famously difficult start to her live career with numerous cancellations of shows, it's now that she feels she's got a show to be proud of and one that deserves to tread in the footsteps of the greats that have nailed this venue before her. Let's hope she can keep up the momentum.
Great seeing lana del rey in Brixton last night pic.twitter.com/2VnnIqVOCE— kevin mullins (@joydivision456) July 25, 2017
Lana Del Rey - Live in London— kaisle (kyle)🍒 (@KaisleXY) July 24, 2017
Taken by me & my little iPhone ✌🏽️ pic.twitter.com/jvqq3AKPyJ