Lana Del Rey’s distinctive brand of dreamy, cinematic pop music seems more suited to a smoky lounge than an arena, but tonight she has filled Glasgow’s Hydro with thousands of her devoted fans. It is a marked difference from the Oran Mor in the city’s West End, where Del Rey played in 2011 to an audience of just a few hundred people.
Her rise to the pantheon of pop star greats is partly thanks to her refusal to conform to expectations; while her peers may create a visually spectacular show for a venue like this, the name ‘Del Rey’ simply appears above the crowd in neon lights. The woman herself walks onstage with no fanfare, save for the roar of the crowd. She states that Glasgow is a “very special place” to her as she “lived here for a while”, and she begins with Cruel World from her third album, Ultraviolence.
Del Rey is accompanied by her band and – somewhat incongruously – two backing dancers, as well as background visuals. They are typical of Del Rey’s vintage imagery: driving late at night, grainy shots of New York skyscrapers, pool parties, American flags flying in the wind. The audience, despite its size, is captivated as Del Rey works her way through the set list, which includes several fan favourites. “Will you sing Born to Die with me?” she asks, and the crowd erupts in anticipation. Another highlight is Ride, Del Rey’s Bruce Springsteen-style anthem to loneliness and escapism.
The final song is Off to the Races, which ends with Del Rey coming down from the stage to greet her fans at the barrier, taking time to sign autographs and take selfies while an extended outro plays. She does not return for an encore, making the set less than an hour and a half long. It’s possibly a shrewd move, given that Del Rey has just announced a world tour for next year.
After all, with her fascination for classic Hollywood glamour, Del Rey will no doubt be familiar with the old adage: “Always leave them wanting more.”