REVIEW WRITTEN BY JARREAU FREEMAN
A crisp, white spotlight illuminated center stage, piercing the darkness.
A figure, cloaked in an ebony robe, slithered onto the scene and took its spot before a microphone.
Head bowed, face covered, swallowed in an abyss of blackness, a hunting, melodic voice began to tiptoe from its source until it completely engulfed the atmosphere – “A tragic and wonderful, triumphal procession” – Lorde.
The 17-year-old, singer-songwriter kicked-off her fall, North American tour at the Mann Center in Philadelphia highlighting her 2013 debut album “Pure Heroine” that reached platinum status and has sold more than 1.2 million copies since its release.
To a packed auditorium, with many fans scattered on the lawn at the outdoor venue, the New Zealand-native’s voice was effortless and embodied a maturity well beyond it’s years as it took listeners into the recesses of the mind of a precocious teenager with shadowy commentary on pop culture, high school, teenage rebellion and battles against adulthood, accompanied with somnolent and languid beats.
The songstress welcomed listeners into her safe place when she performed “Tennis Courts,” which discusses connecting with the familiar when changes emerge all around you — the tennis court acting as a symbol of nostalgia.
“Pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane/ I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space/ But my head’s filling up fast with the wicked games, up in flames,” she sang. “Baby be the class clown/ I’ll be the beauty queen in tears/ It’s a new art form showing people how little we care/ We’re so happy, even when we’re smilin’ out of fear/ Let’s go down to the tennis court/ and talk it up like yeah.”
Then there was “Ribs” a song simply about the fear of growing older, in which she sung, “This dream isn’t feeling sweet/ we’re reeling through the midnight streets/And I’ve never felt more alone/ Feels so scary getting old.”
And let’s not forget “Royals,” the singer’s claim-to-fame, in which she critiques popular music today, and the success of the “undeserving,” as she sings, “But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom/ Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room/ We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams/ But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece/ Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash/ We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.”
Lorde is the voice of this generation. Not only is the cohort of teens, who are listening to her music, using her songs as their anthem, raising their mobile devices in the air, methodically and in agreement, they are connecting to her quirks which come across authentic and unrehearsed.
From creeping across the stage in cloaks and capes that bellowed in the breeze while draped on top of crop tops and parachute pants, to her gloomy lipstick and long, wavy locks that took on a life of their own whenever she began a series of artful gesticulations to a song, Lorde is the teen spirit.
In the realm of high school it seems that Lorde would be on the sidelines, moving to her own beat as people looked on with puzzled glances. But that’s what makes her and her music so cool; she gives others the confidence to do the same.