It’s been nearly a decade since Lorde shot to fame at the age of 16, propelled initially by the chart-topping single ‘Royals’ and then a steady stream of other terrific cuts from the incredible debut album. from 2013’s “Pure Heroine”.
Local fans have been lucky enough to watch her develop her craft over those years, as the New Zealand-born singer has made regular stops in those areas – dating back to her triumphant Bay Area debut at The Fillmore in San Francisco on September 27. 2013 (the same day “Pure Heroine” was released) and continues through winning shows at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, Oakland Arena and other venues.
Now 26, the singer returned to San Francisco once again on Tuesday (May 3) for a sold-out show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
“Hello and welcome to the Solar Power Tour. My name is Ella,” said Ella Marija born woman Lani Yelich-O’Connor. “You may know me as Lorde.
“It is my absolute privilege to be with you tonight.”
And the feeling was both definitely mutual, as fans roared in approval at virtually every move, note or smile Lorde made during the approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes she spent on stage.
The show was simply brilliant, serving as yet another strong statement that Lorde – now 10 years old and three records in her career – deserves to be ranked as one of the greatest pop artists of the millennium.
The proof came wave after wave of memorable tracks – which, in reality, are pretty much the only ones recorded by Lorde. The music was diversely appealing, drawing from many genres but managing to sound quite distinct to the artist herself. The lyrics – rich in insight and brimming with intrigue and clever, curious phrases – were equally gratifying.
Additionally, the vocal delivery has improved over the years as Lorde’s ability to deal with both nuances and degrees of drama has improved. She was battling a cold at the Bill Graham Civic, but it didn’t noticeably impact her singing – although it could be heard as she spoke to the crowd.
Lorde opened the show relatively low-key with “Leader of a New Regime”, one of 10 songs she would perform on the tour’s self-titled album – 2021’s “Solar Power”. intensity with a double hit of fan favorites – “Homemade Dynamite” (from 2017’s “Melodrama”) and “Buzzcut Season” (from “Pure Heroine”).
It was certainly no surprise that the deals for the first two albums went so well – after all, they both rank among the best albums of the previous decade. What was a little more surprising, however, was that the new songs were received just as warmly as the old ones.
“Solar Power” didn’t do the type of sales or attract the same critical acclaim as its two predecessors. Still, the material translated much better live than on record, as Lorde sold each song with conviction, personality, and the help of 8,500 backing vocalists in the crowd.
There was a serious “Solar Power” theme to the evening, beginning with the selection of The Beatles’ “Sun King” as the entrance music and extending to the use of a giant rotating sundial (with its gnomon making stair pantry) as the main stage prop. She’d even twirled the confetti cannons to shoot brightly colored (and messy) souvenirs for fans on the floor during “Solar Power,” a song Lorde said she wrote “in a wet bikini” then. that she was “on an island called Martha’s Vineyard”. .”
She explained that her goal in writing the song was to capture the feeling “of a long day in the sun, your warming skin, the kiss of the ocean, the blur of the day drinking maybe”.
“You know that feeling I’m talking about, don’t you?” she asked. “It’s a very specific kind of fuzzy, sexy power. I know you know what I’m talking about because you live in California.
“I wanted to capture that feeling so that wherever I was, whatever type of day I was having, I could invoke it.”
And then she did just that, summoning a bright ray of sunshine that increased the heat of the crowd considerably.
“I hate winter, I can’t stand the cold. I tend to cancel all plans,” Lorde sang in a close whisper at the start of the song. “But when the heat comes, something sets in. Can I kick it?”
Yeah, she can.
Still, Lorde wasn’t sunny all the time — and some of her best work came on the more soulful songs like “Stoned at the Nail Salon” and “Liability.”
After playing the pumped-up electro-dance-pop of “Green Light,” she intentionally took things down a notch and closed the main set on a soft, introspective note with the beautiful “Oceanic Feeling.”
She then returned for a terrific encore, returning to her early art-pop roots for minimalist versions of classic “Pure Heroine” “400 Lux”, “Royals” and “Team”.
Opening the show for Lorde was Bay Area Palo Alto high school graduate Remi Wolf who drew rave reviews for her debut album, last year’s “Juno.”
A rising star in the music industry, the soul-pop singer-songwriter – reportedly now based in Los Angeles – returns to Northern California for three shows in September. Wolf performs September 12 at Catalyst in Santa Cruz and September 14-15 at Warfield in San Francisco. To see remiwolf.com for more details.