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Live Review: Lorde w/ George Maple @ Riverstage – 23.11.2017

© Tom Sue Yek

If the unbridled excitement from the Riverstage last Thursday night could be transformed into a tangible resource, Brisbane wouldn’t have to worry about power for a while. Because as soon as you stepped out into the venue, you could feel the anticipation running through thousands of energetic fans ready for kiwi dream-pop ‘Royal’ Ella Yelich-O’Connor aka Lorde.

The talented 21 year-old has had a busy year releasing and promoting her sophomore album ‘Melodrama’. It’s been a long wait but the Aussie leg of Lorde’s world tour finally reached the Sunshine State and her bewitching electrical storm was set to light up the night.

Getting the party started was dark electronic-pop goddess George Maple, who was a cross between Flume, FKA Twigs and Alison Wonderland. The London-based songstress resembled a dark siren with flamboyant, dance moves and a robust timbre, rich in ambiance and saucy attitude. This was further punctuated by a crimson backdrop and billowing clouds of smoke veiling her form.

© Tom Sue Yek

Though many punters were content with just sitting on the grass and chowing down before the main act, it didn’t deter Maple from encouraging the crowd to sing and jump along as she brought out her inner gangsta in Beyonce’s Diva, and ending with popular hit Hero. 

As the lights dimmed and the crowd fell into a hushed silence, a vintage TV complete with static appeared on the side screens, flicking through a series of clips from commercials, the Parliament House, movies, sport matches, and of Lorde herself before the songstress entered the stage to deafening cheers.

© Tom Sue Yek

Resembling a space enchantress with braided Princess Leia buns and a sparkly, boob-tube dress, Lorde launched right into Homemade Dynamite, followed by the forbidden fruit of Magnets and feisty number Tennis Court. Lorde greeted the crowd like an old friend, expressing how stoked she was to be back. “It’s always such a party in Brisbane!” she beamed.

The carefree lyricist appeared to be having a blast as she busted out her trademark dorkalicous dance moves while two lycra-clad dancers joined her on stage, gracefully gliding around the superstar.

There was a childlike innocence in the way Lorde kneeled on the floor to play the opening notes of Buzzcut Season on a toy glockenspiel, only for the illusion to shatter later with some hard-core krumping. Sober was infectious with brass samples, scratchy string pads and a jungle beat that had the audience up on their feet.

© Tom Sue Yek

Changing into a flowing sheer beige dress for The Lourve, Lorde looked like a fairy princess, enamouring the crowd with passionate if not slightly breathless vocals. In contrast, during A World Alone the smoke and fiery lights made it seem like the stage was on fire as Lorde theatrically fell to the floor, belting out angry words.

Lorde reached out to the crowd on an intimate level, expressing her love for Brisbane rock pioneers Powderfinger and singing a few bars of My Happiness over the piano intro for Liability.

Continuing the tête-à-tête, Lorde expressed her amazement from the success of ‘Melodrama.’ “It was scary to write a second album after the first was so popular,” she revealed. “I didn’t think I was going to make this emotional fluorescent kind of breakout party document but here we are.”

© Tom Sue Yek

As Lorde launched into Liability, her vulnerability displayed like an open wound, it felt as though invisible ribbons of empathy were connecting the entire house together as everyone singing along in united camaraderie.

The show’s visual aesthetics were an obvious extension of Lorde’s eccentricity, from the giant luminescent sculptures taking turns to garnish the stage, to the artistic video montages that were a window into the emotional turbulence and creative genius of Lorde. They included an excerpt from Grimm’s ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’ and a heartfelt monologue for her unquenchable desire for love.

Leading up to the finale, Lorde unleashed a string of hits, starting with ubiquitous gem Royals, which caused the crowd to break into a frenzy of screamed lyrics and Lorde-inspired dance moves. Perfect Places and Team were attacked next before ‘ending’ with exhilarating anthem Green Light, where confetti rained down on the audience like white ashes against flame-hued spotlights.

© Tom Sue Yek

Lorde returned for a brief but rewarding encore of Loveless where fans were treated to her hidden skills as a live DJ. As the last remnants of the song faded through the park, Lorde skipped off stage, leaving the audience to linger in the moment. 

Aside from a drummer and two synth players hidden in the shadows, additional instrumentation and backing vocals came from pre-recorded tracks. It would’ve been great to see a live pianist and a couple more backing vocalists, although this minor absence in no way diminished the spectacular beauty of the overall show. It’ll be a long time before fans come back down to earth from the euphoria and enthralling melodrama of the night.

Photos by Tom Sue Yek