Lorde’s Solar Power tour marks her first time performing in concert halls in nearly five years, and both the world and the New Zealand singer have changed. She’s wearier and wiser, and so are we.
On Wednesday night, Lorde gave her second of two performances at the Wang Theater in Boston. Unlike night one where her mic experienced a number of technical difficulties in the second song, the show was a perfectly orchestrated and almost ethereal experience.
Following the energetic, funk and hip-hop beats of opener Remi Wolf, Lorde appeared as a shadow to a hushed crowd. She emerged from behind a giant glowing orb against an astrological backdrop before climbing a large rotating stairway. The Solar Power tour opened with the dreamy ballad “Leader of a New Regime” from its namesake album before transitioning with a flash of energy into Melodrama’s “Homemade Dynamite” and “Buzzcut Season” from her 2013 debut record Pure Heroine.
Diving so quickly into beloved old hits was a smart move, assuring longtime Lorde fans that she hasn’t abandoned all her teen angst and rock beats entirely, despite Solar Power’s more subdued and beachy vibes. While Solar Power as an album was widely considered divisive and overwhelming to fans who waited years for Lorde’s next move, here the atmosphere she builds on stage perfectly captures the psychedelic, nature-inspired feel of the album.
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Throughout her two-hour set, Lorde floated across the stage with her endearing Luna Lovegood-esque dance moves, backed by a five-piece band in retro yellow suits. (Perhaps, the styling was inspired by The Talking Heads following last year’s Musicians on Musicians interview in Rolling Stone between Lorde and David Byrne).
The entire event felt less like a concert and more like a full theatrical performance. This vibe was complemented by Lorde’s decision to perform in a classical music hall that hosts Broadway shows and ballets, rather than go the route of a typical stadium tour. Throughout the night, Lorde had four outfit changes from a black jumpsuit to a romantic red dress to a dramatic gold bustle dress, and finally, a bright yellow two-piece look that evokes the entire Solar Power era.
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Three separate times Lorde directly addressed the audience with earnest, intimate monologues describing how much she missed the human connection that comes with live shows in these past few years of hiatus and pandemic. She spoke of wanting the emotions of her songs to fill the entire body and force people to dance bad feelings away before letting loose in a cathartic version of “Hard Feelings/Loveless.”
In this space, Solar Power’s songs came to life on stage in a way that they couldn’t purely from listening to the album at home. The audience was dancing and swaying along rhythmically to each word. Clearly, this is an album that hits better on a warm, April day, surrounded by fellow fans, rather than alone in late August as most of us originally experienced it.
Lorde also acknowledged how her own growth and evolution mirror that of her longtime fans, most of whom were tweens and teens themselves when Lorde gained global attention with Royals at just 16 years old. She encouraged the audience to “Dance for their 15-year-old selves” and seemed to do the same. At one point the singer even ended a high-energy performance of “Super Cut” by laying down on the stage.
The concert’s conclusion did feel a bit anti-climatic, as Lorde followed up a bright, high-energy performance of the fan-favorite hit “Green Light” with two slower tracks off Solar Power: “Oceanic Feeling” and the bonus track, “Hold No Grudge.” Most artists likely would’ve reversed the order and gone out on the upbeat song, but that’s not Lorde. She gave the crowds time to calm down and contemplate their experience in the quieter moments. Lorde has said she was inspired to write Solar Power while visiting the ocean at Martha’s Vineyard and wanting to hold onto a specific moment of sitting outside and feeling the sun on your skin.
But life moves quickly and you can’t stay in the same spot forever. As Lorde succinctly puts it in “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All), “Couldn’t wait to turn 15/Then you blink and it’s been 10 years/Growing up a little at a time then all at once.”