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Live Review


Event Info

January 29 2014
Silo Park, Auckland

Reviewed By
Louisa Kasza
30th January 2014


Opening acts for hugely anticipated megastars can often be uncomfortable viewing experiences - through no fault of their own, but simply due to the crowd's impatience. Fortunately, such was not the case for Watercolours, with Chelsea Metcalf the most self-assured I've ever seen her. Metcalf's usually tense stage presence was relaxed and irreverent, and she bantered with the crowd without the usual anxious undercurrent, even getting off the stage to dance around with the barrier-clutchers. Although the interaction between Metcalf and support musician Jonathan Pearce was curiously vibeless, he played a great second fiddle as an accomplished musician and straight man to Metcalf's fun, slightly chaotic antics. Watercolours did a great job prepping a receptive and mixed crowd.

With all the families, you might think you were at Christmas in the Park, and the crowd was outrageously well-behaved compared to some of the antics seen at Laneway previously. Conditions were perfect for a Lorde show. The weather didn't pack a sad, the vibe was relaxed, and Laneway did a great job keeping an all-ages crowd safe and happy. One caveat though: with so many punters of different ages, sizes and able-bodied-ness, it would have been nice if more people had been able to see Lorde on stage. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Laneway could do with taking a leaf out of Big Day Out's book and putting up some big screens. Even a slightly more elevated stage would have made a huge difference to a lot of people's enjoyment.

It would be hard for anybody to live up to the weight of expectation Yelich-O'Connor had on her shoulders, but she surpassed it in terms of charm, stage presence and vocal ability. Her charisma and maturity has not been overstated - she flailed around the stage in the graceful yet ungainly manner favoured by young chanteuses, but with a refreshing lack of self-conciousness, and delivered such one-liners as 'I'm sorry to swear you guys but I won two fucking Grammys!!!', along with repeated thanks and praise to the audience, with genuine humour and warmth - you could practically see the connection vibrating between audience and stage. The teen bellowing every word of 'Royals' into my right ear was definitely feeling it, and so was I. Every time Lorde took a step towards the front of the stage, the crowd would freak out.

I didn't really expect that songs which sounded so full and polished in the studio would translate so well to a live performance, but Lorde, always one step ahead, had showed customary thoughtfulness in crafting tracks such as 'Ribs' which, she explained, she had redrafted following last year's Laneway Festival with the idea of making it a glorious live experience. The set-up was typically minimalist and tasteful; lighting was restricted to white and gold, and Lorde's band were dressed in crisp white. This was incredibly effective, though: seeing Yelich-O'Connor drenched in a hazy golden light seemed particularly apt. Drummer Ben Barter played as precisely as always, carrying entire tracks on his shoulders with ease, while keyboardist Jimmy Mac added flourish without ever gilding the lily.

It's easy to forget in the face of all the hype over her age, dress and soundbites that Lorde is, above all, a phenomenal singer. This was particularly apparent when she covered James Blake's 'Retrograde' - her voice soars in a way that's easier to comprehend without the emotional baggage so many of us have come to attach to her album. Rich, sonorous and pure, it's only going to get better with age. Perhaps taking on the simplicity of Blake's track and applying it to her own work will help to showcase Lorde's golden vocals on future projects.


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