Infamous, mysterious, awkward, beautiful, fraudulent, talented - these are words used frequently to describe Lana Del Rey.
The 26-year-old US singer/songwriter’s seemingly overnight ascension to fame is unlike any other musician in history. There’s the question of her concealed past, which includes a stream of previous stage names (some alleged, some confirmed) such as Lizzy Grant, May Jailer and Sparkle Rope Jump Queen before settling on Lana Del Ray and later changing the surname spelling to Rey. There’s the question of her self-proclaimed naturally plump lips that follows Del Rey in every interview. But perhaps the most prominent question, and the one on the mind of every audience member at The Palace tonight is; can Lana Del Rey actually sing?
Yes, yes she can.
Three hours after The Palace’s doors open, Del Rey appears to the excited but growingly impatient crowd. Many of tonight’s punters were ticket holders for Del Rey’s first Australian tour, scheduled to take place in March this year. The tour was cancelled due to “unprecedented international demand,” and tonight is fans’ long awaited opportunity to see Del Rey in person.
Physically, Del Rey is beautiful. Her long wavy hair falls to her waist and is held back with her signature flower crown, designed by Melbourne label Lady Petrova. She’s in a waist cinching red dress and heels, which are removed after the opening track “Blue Jeans”. And as for her lips? There was a never a moment they weren’t covered by the microphone to say.
Del Rey enters the crowd numerous times throughout the set, disappearing into a mess of her admirers. She giggles as she sings, but these moments aside, there are very few instances where Del Rey’s voice falters. Her singing differs from the album’s original vocal arrangements, but this not for lack of ability and only gives fans further incentive to see Del Rey live.
Her set is a string of the love songs from album Born To Die including “Radio”, “Carmen”, “Summertime Sadness” and the LP’s title track.
Del Rey’s most famous song “Video Games”, which appeared at number six in the 2011 Triple J Hottest 100, was played late in the set and was greeted by the loudest cheer of the night. The band performed a stripped back and slowed down version of the song, and the audience chimed in with Del Rey to recite the lyrics.
The set consisted only of tracks from Born To Die, and even then there were noticeable omissions. Even when compiling a set solely from one album, Del Rey chose not to perform “Off To The Races” and “Diet Mountain Dew”.
Perhaps Del Rey’s rapid rise to fame is to blame, but despite her undeniable beauty and unique voice, she is a noticeably awkward performer. She waves at crowd members not paying attention, she wraps herself in audio cables, and she often places her hands uncomfortably on her body. A crowd member loudly proclaims, “She seems very self-conscious.” It’s true; for despite Del Rey’s hoards of fans, the criticism received after that performance on SNL will undoubtedly haunt Del Rey's live shows forever.
The set concludes on “National Anthem” and Del Rey offhandedly waves before running off stage without so much as a goodbye. Before cheers for an encore had a chance to commence, the house lights were switched on and the band began to gather their equipment. As much as this performance was worthy of acclaim, it’s hard to shake the disappointing feeling that 50 minutes was an unnecessarily short set.
Fans gathered at the stage door to catch a glimpse of their idol. Hipsters shared stories of getting Del Rey’s autograph tattooed on their wrists, and fan girls discussed poses for their group shot. But Del Rey never appeared. She had allegedly left the venue seconds after exiting the stage.
Lana Del Rey: forever a woman of mystique and intrigue.