Walking into the Fillmore Detroit on Sunday evening, it was hard to immediately determine which show the sold-out crowd was there to see.
With an audience consisting of nearly 3,000 music fans from all walks of life, the rare diversity among concert goers was only made more impressive by the fact that it was a teenager that drew us all into the same room – namely, Miss Ella Yelich-O’Connor.
At 17, O’Connor, better known by her stage name Lorde, is quite literally taking the world by storm, as she fills large venues all over North America on her first-ever international tour. In fact, the young New Zealander set a Fillmore Detroit record when she sold out the entire theater in just five minutes, according to Live Nation (via Freep.com).
And watching Lorde perform live is about as unique as her wide variety of fans.
As she walks on stage dressed in a gothic, flowing black outfit, accented by her lion’s mane of hair, Lorde starts her set alone under a simple spotlight before a curtain drops to reveal her band: a keyboardist and a drummer.
She also incorporates the use of pre-recorded vocal tracks into her songs that work as backup singers, and at any given time, she is essentially harmonizing with three or four versions of herself.
Meanwhile, every lighting effect and screen projection that occurs during the show seems to carry a certain significance for the singer, and it is apparent that the visual elements are meant to synch up to each piece in her 14-song set list, which ranges in sound from electronic to alternative to synth-pop and beyond.
As Lorde moves easily and eerily from one track to the next, most of which were from her debut record Pure Heroine, she touts a level of confidence that’s rarely seen in performers twice her age.
Indeed, Lorde seems incredibly at ease on the stage, from drinking what appears to be tea from a ceramic mug, to donning a shiny gold bathrobe, to showing off her own unique brand of spastic dancing that makes one feel like she’s at a rave that’s being held in the privacy of her own bedroom (seriously, when is Lorde-ing going to be the next internet craze?)
As an intro to the atmospheric “Ribs,” the singer told a lengthy story about throwing a crazy house party with her sister and best friend, and how it helped her to step outside of her comfort zone – a place that seems so expansive when she’s performing that it’s hard to believe it exists in her personal life.
Still, there are signs of immaturity in the young singer, as she fails to complete usual concert etiquette like recognizing the members of her two-person backing band – though knowledge of such things will only come with time.
Surprisingly, Lorde’s weakest performance of the evening was her low-energy rendition of “Royals,” which she has called “overplayed” in the past, foreshadowing the fact that there may come a day when the talented teen no longer wants to perform the song that made her a superstar.
The Grammy Award-winner also threw fans for a loop when she basically chose to forgo an encore, instead closing the show rather abruptly.
After playing an epic version of “Team,” complete with an explosion of confetti that rained down over the crowd as pink and white lights flashed so intensely you had to shield your eyes, Lorde returned to perform the much-mellower “A World Alone.”
Then, as a rogue piece of ticker tape floated to the ground, the singer simply left the stage, and on came the houselights.
“Is that all?” a nearby concert goer asked incredulously.
Perhaps for now, but in so many ways, Lorde is just getting started.