Lana Del Rey At the Prudential Center, Friday, January 19th, 2018
Let me put on a show for you daddy
Let me put on a show
Let me put on a show for you tiger,
Let me put on a show
Well, can Lana Del Rey put on a show for me? I wrote this after a gig in 2012 at Irving Plaza: “Her wandering, head thrown back, minimal emotionalism might not have been a sop but it wasn’t a scene either, with nobody else on stage, no foil, nothing to give into, and only her dumbass tiara to concentrate upon, Lana seemed like a wannabe who by some miracle of song and time got a hit and now had to market it: the blue, moody Born to Die was all about sexuality as bad hair day.” So is it true in 2018? At the Prudential Center last night the answer was yes and no. While Lana still has a certain wanderlust, she presents herself pretty well, comfortable with the 17,000 member cult screaming their adoration for her for an entire 90 minute set, she smiled a lot and sung a lot, and spoke well. She played guitar, the stage wasn’t much but it had one great effect which changed the floor so it resembled the ocean, she mentioned that she lived in Jersey ten years ago, a fielder’s choice (we ended up getting “Serial Killer”) found her kneeling near the edge of the stage whispering with the General Admission fans as they helped her choose what to do next. It wasn’t great but it is was loose and fun, her ambient 50s place, 10s sounding widescreen songs of drugs and sex and death on the beach lost a touch of their intensity but made perfect sense.
Lana had been kicking around on her daddy’s dime for a coupla years trying to break through before “Video Game,” a 50s technicolor orchestrated dream of romantic something or the other, did the job. The album, Born To Die was excellent, as whoever Lana was became a creature of intense aloneness (that’s what happens when you major in Philosophy with an emphasis on Metaphysics at Fordham) and heartache with big lips and hair. She is a Hitchcock blonde but not the ice queen Grace Kelly, the damaged Kim Novak. What do you expect from a woman who told interviews “I think about killing myself everyday”? Maybe it was as fake as her name, maybe it was true, she certainly had a lot of people on her side who knew stuff, like the Bangles’ producer David Kahane.
And anyway, three albums later all that’s left is the beach and the fans, as Lana at 32 years of ages seems settled into her own skin. In the six years she has lost a little of her lushness and a lot of her video image of Post Traumatic Stress, Lana at Prudential was a good piece of fair to middling poptones. She was really singing and her band, keyboards, bass, guitar and drums, were not taped, and she exuded not a personal apocalypse, but the charms of self-confidence. She was easy going but on point, her best songs, “Pretty When I Cry,” “Yayo,” “Mountain Diet Dew” had a telling sense of time and place (you remember: “Diet mountain dew, baby, New York City, can we hit it now low down and gritty”) and while it is true that all of those songs except for one were off her breakthrough, nothing was bad at all and “Honeymoon” could be added to that list easy. That “take off all your clothes” hook from “Lust For Life” was excellent on stage, “Black Beauty” was lovely. She looked somewhere between hot and weird in a black miniskirt and thigh high boots, and the drugged on the beach sunrise stage designed looked as though it coulda have been lifted off one of her videos.
Still, it was a professional evening of song for the base. Lana is exceptional, she just about invented half of the electric blue popsters of the moment, people like Halsey who added EDM beats to Lana’s sound and functions in a similar art damaged confessional side of the street. That’s true, though not live on stage for Lana, there is something in her persona that functions best with distraction and dreamstates. Like Kim Novak…