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Concert review: Lorde's voice wows at Aragon

March 19, 2014|By Ernest Wilkins @ernestwilkins | RedEye Sound Board

"Hey, Chicago? Does anyone have a hair tie?"

It's not the sentence you'd expect Lorde to say in the middle of a show. Hey, even worldwide pop sensations need to get their damn hair off their necks.

The 17-year-old New Zealand singer's sold-out Chicago debut at Aragon brought out fans whose ages ranged from "Where is your mother, young lady? It is far too cold to be out here in shorts and a crop top" to glum dads on pre-teen shuttle duty. The audience was overwhelmingly young and female; when opener Matthew Hemerlein (better known as Lo Fang) took off his jacket, the screams easily registered a 2.8 on the Bieber scale. 

The night belonged to Lorde, of course, who commanded the audience without as much as a syllable uttered. She barreled into "Glory and Gore" from her hit album, "Pure Heroine," while doing a move that was one part Stevie Nicks, one part Holy Ghost seizure--with some drunk uncle swaying to boot.

It was phenomenal.

The Grammy-winning artist breezed through almost the entirety of her breakout record, backed perfectly by a keyboardist/DJ and a drummer that did a lot by not trying to do too much. As for her voice, there was a point where I was skeptical that she was actually singing and not lip-syncing--only to have her completely bust into a high note on "Bravado" that made me want to apologize to her directly for being so wrong and naive. I'll never doubt you again, Lord Lorde.

I don't have many gripes. The swampy murk of her productions can sometimes take the power out of her voice, leaving garbled lyrics that can be hard to decipher behind the thump. Also, her story about throwing a party that led to the creation of "Ribs" completely sucked the life out of what was to that point an entergetic performance. (I'm perfectly aware that it was intended to be insightful, but if Kanye West took 10 full minutes out of his set to tell a rambling story like that one, we'd be calling it an annoying "rant" so fast that your head would spin.) 

Mostly, Lorde displayed the chops of a seasonsed pro, and it's fun to imagine what path she'll tread moving forward. Can't wait to see what she does next.

SET LIST
Glory And Gore
Biting Down
Tennis Court
White Teeth Teens
Buzzcut Season
400 Lux
Still Sane
Bravado
Easy (Switch Screens)
Ribs
Hold My Liquor (Kanye West cover)
Royals
Team
A World Alone

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