Lorde Sound Academy, Toronto ON, March 15

Lorde Sound Academy, Toronto ON, March 15
Photo: Tiana Feng
A lone spotlight cut through the blackness in the room to reveal Lorde at centre stage, where her presence was immediately overwhelming. Dressed head to toe in stark white, she began her hour-long set with a dramatic rendition of "Glory and Gore," during which the crowd received its first taste of her infamous and jarring stage maneuvers. She moves as if she is compelled into action, as if the beat just comes straight through her.

She convulsed back-and-forth across the full length of the stage through numbers like "Tennis Court," "400 Lux," "Bravado," "Still Sane" and an absolutely transfixing cover of Son Lux's "Easy," making for a well-rounded set. There wasn't any grandiose stage décor or over the top theatrics; nothing but her thrilling fervour, a single crystal chandelier that hung high above her head and a spectacular light show that took off soaring as the night progressed, casting her in a wash of vibrant purples, blues and reds.

Supported by her keyboardist and drummer, Lorde's performance was captivating on a level one generally does not expect from an artist who's just embarked upon their first U.S. headlining tour. The atmosphere was sparse and electric, and it served to underscore both her roaring vocal abilities and humanized, flawed persona.

Towards the later half of her set she took a moment to let her guard down to deliver an eloquent interlude during which she brought the audience into a story about a marathon house party, the kind you only ever get away with as a teenager, and which inspired her song "Ribs." She went on to confess that she is "fucking terrified" about wanting to do this "adult" thing that exists outside of the world she has always known, and often stays up at night wondering if she'll have to leave that world behind. Despite her magnetic ability to command audience attention, it was a sudden reminder that she is, in fact, still just a kid who's trying to figure out how to straddle the line between reckless abandon and adult rule, something she fears deeply and makes no attempts to hide.

The moment everyone was waiting for finally arrived as Lorde effortlessly slipped into the opening lines of "Royals." Although the monster hit was responsible for her breakthrough success over the past year, it wasn't the standout moment of the evening.

That honour went to the anthemic "Team." Before the final chorus came crashing down, she exited the stage and re-emerged wearing a golden cape, cuing a blast of confetti out onto the crowd in accordance with the beat.

To close out the night, Lorde kept the audience dancing with a rendition of "A World Alone," a song about doing her thing in a world full of fake friends, bad habits and foolish hearts. She left the crowd with three earsplitting words, "Let 'em talk," and then disappeared back into the darkness. 

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