For months I had been waiting in anticipation for what was to come the night of this concert. Since the day I purchased the ticket, my mind would often bring me to imaginative moments of which songs she’d sing, and how I might catch a glance from her in the crowd. I tried not to build up unrealistic expectations of the event but became restless in the process. The impatience reached its peak standing in the third row in the GA pool, knowing artists never come out the time they’re scheduled to, watching the empty stage and its equipment cautiously, awaiting the moment the lights would suddenly dim.
As soon as I heard the lyrics “I got my red dress on tonight…” I immediately didn’t mind my feet going numb being packed into a pit full of bodies. Soon I even appreciated the cool air of the outdoor venue. Nothing else in my environment seemed to matter. And when I got a moment to compose myself, after her opening hit song, I noticed how electrically the people around me had transformed in her presence, and how I was seamlessly a part of it, as well. It seems underwhelming to say Lana did not disappoint.
In preparation for her concert, I tried not to listen to her album too much or look for videos of her singing live, so I wouldn’t compare her performance to anything, but that effort was rendered useless, when I discovered she sounded exactly the same live as she does in her recording, if not better. I also made a note to myself to not take too many pictures or videos and be present with her in a concert I’ll never get to relive, which I also failed to accomplish, since I felt the immediate need to add every favorite lyric of mine to my camera roll when I actually saw her; I convinced myself it was better to keep these moments forever if the memory ever faded.
The best way I can think to describe her performance with justice is an effortless showcase of her talent and passion. Each artist tampers with the original recording in a live performance, occasionally lowering an octave or counting on the audience to fill in lyrics, when they need to breathe, but not Lana. Holding notes for longer, gracefully lifting lyrics higher with her eyes closed. With minimal, delicate choreography, she and her backup dancers in shimmering gold dresses moved across the stage; it was impossible not to be captivated.
Not only did she sound the same, but she looked the same as she has in music videos, with skin dewy and unblemished, as if it were airbrushed to mimic a pink rose. Something I had never experienced in concert before — but now hold my standards higher for other artists because of — was the visual art projected behind her. The video reels timed perfectly in each song transported the whole Waikiki Shell into the shoot for her music video, her vocals never failing to embrace the fantasy further.
The moments when she wasn’t singing, however, were sweet. Expressing her appreciation for the crowd, also being kind enough to remember and acknowledge familiar faces she saw at shows in LA. A song that I perhaps enjoyed the most, but did not expect to (since she sang “Shades of Cool,” one of my all-time favorites), was “When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing.” Her choice to include this on the set list felt necessary. It hit me and genuinely inspired me to take on a more hopeful mindset in this political climate. Lana Del Rey is an artist who is just as authentic as her music. Her show had the power to leave me holding even more value in her music now than I did prior.