It is almost unfathomable that Lorde – real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor – will only be turning twenty-one next month. The precociously talented New Zealander is already the recipient of two Grammy Awards for her international breakthrough hit Royals, and was famously told by the late David Bowie that her music ‘felt like listening to tomorrow’.
Lorde’s music is characterised by sparse, icy beats and her biting critiques of society’s obsession with materialism, but tonight at Glasgow’s O2 Academy, she bounds on stage with a huge smile, after a video montage of Lorde and various images from popular culture is played. ‘Thank you so much for coming!’ she says, and the packed crowd roars in response. Her excitable energy is at odds with her sometimes sombre, serious image.
Despite her enthusiasm, Lorde still stands out from her pop peers by favouring an intimate, club-like atmosphere to a gaudy spectacle for her live shows. The O2 Academy is mostly filled with teenagers, dressed all in black and covered with glitter. With an almost terrifying self-possession, Lorde basically converts the venue into her own dance club as she performs songs from both her debut album Pure Heroine and this year’s Melodrama. The audience is entirely at her command as she dances with frenzied energy to Homemade Dynamite, and Tennis Court prompts one of the biggest sing-alongs of the night.
The songs from Melodrama in particular sound majestic live. The Louvre builds to a euphoric climax, while Lorde’s endearingly lengthy introduction to piano ballad Liability makes it no less affecting. There’s a cover of In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins, and Supercut pulses with raw energy.
It seemed implausible that Lorde would ever better the infectious playground chants of Royals, but Green Light has by far the biggest response of the evening. The crowd jumps along while singing the cathartic chorus, ‘I’m waiting for it/that green light/I want it!’, surely a tailor-made festival chant for years to come.
Lorde is such an accomplished artist and performer already that it is impossible to predict where she will go from here. At this point, the only certainties are that she will next be touring Britain’s arenas, and when she does, Lorde’s legions of fans will be ready to dance with her again.