Lorde dazzles at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena

Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor wrapped up her Melodrama World Tour in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The precocious 21-year-old, more famously known by her moniker Lorde, dazzled and danced with reckless abandon as she found a way to make an arena with a seating capacity of 20,000 feel intimate.

Stellar opening performances by indie-rock artist Mitski and rowdy hip-hop duo Run the Jewels worked the crowd into a frenzy, abuzz with anticipation for Lorde’s arrival. One could feel the electricity in the air as a collective ball of energy waited to burst the second she graced the stage. After a brief intermission, the arena went dark. A billow of fog filled the stage and vibrant blue lights revealed the silhouettes of dancers who began to strike poses in time to the introductory voice loop of “Sober.” Eventually, a spotlight, accompanied by an outburst of cheers, revealed the New Zealand-born pop sensation donned in lavender flowy pants and a sparkling transparent top.

Lorde had the entire crowd on its feet, dancing and singing along. A nearly palpable flow of energy between the audience and the performer stayed consistent as Lorde moved onto her second song, “Homemade Dynamite,” much due to her all-too-familiar eccentric dancing style. The juxtaposition between Lorde’s quirky, unrestrained, hip-hopesque movement and the lyrical dancing style of the backup dancers clothed in white was, in a word, captivating.

Her banter after the two introductory songs was almost as enjoyable as the performances themselves. She recalled the last time she was in Nashville: a 2014 performance at the Grand Ole Opry, which she claimed was an ultimate milestone. She chatted with the audience as if we were old friends catching up at dinner, asking about hot gossip and updates on the lives of thousands of fans. “You may have been here for hockey games or basketball games or other concerts,” Lorde addressed the audience with confidence, “but tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you’re in my house,” as she dove into Pure Heroine’s hard-hitting “Tennis Court.”

While her tour may boast the title of “Melodrama,” her stage design surely did not follow suit. The setup was refreshingly simple, but not lackluster. At no point were there more than six dancers on stage; at times the number was as small as one. Some dancers performed in a large, clear rectangular prism, which hung from cables deeper into the stage. During “Sober II (Melodrama),” one of the more striking performances, the six dancers performed in slow motion inside the box that had been tilted to hang at a 45-degree incline.

The distinct array of stage colors can likely be attributed to the artist’s synesthesia – a rare neurological condition that causes the brain to process data in the form of several senses at once. In Lorde’s case, sound is translated to colors in her head; a phenomenon that she claims has a huge impact on how she creates her music. Forget red, blue, and green. Throughout the night, the stage was illuminated by vivid hues of cerulean, cobalt, rose, and citrine.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the concert was Lorde’s ability to provide the most intimate musical experience, despite the sheer size of the venue. Before she began her slow-paced songs, she took time to speak about her writing process and the life experiences, such as a crushing breakup with her ex-boyfriend, which led her to the upcoming songs.  The vulnerability and wisdom she showed in front of thousands of individuals brought forth both her humanity and her genius. Halfway through her performance of “Liability,” she paused as a tear rolled down her cheek, and there weren’t many dry eyes in the house.

However, her passion went both ways. She threw herself into high-energy components of the concerts as much as the sentimental. “I’m going to give you everything, but you have to [give everything] too,” Lorde shouted to the crowd before her performance of “Green Light,” the first single off her sophomore album. The arena turned into a rave at Ella’s house as she skipped and twirled across the stage, inviting us to jump and dance with her as star-shaped confetti rained from the sky.

In her encore, she sprinted onto the floor, freely bestowing her fans with hugs as fans showered her back with love. One adoring admirer gifted her a gold crown, which she placed on her head as she returned to the stage. At 17, Lorde was catapulted into the world of fame with a hit that sung of being envious of royalty. Looks like she made it.

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About Simi Odugbesan

Simi Odugbesan is a junior at Vanderbilt University from Duluth, Georgia. In order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of music and the related economies, she successfully designed, constructed and advocated for her own interdisciplinary major in Music, Culture, and Society. She is also minoring in Corporate Strategy and will combine her studies to pursue a lifelong dream of working in the music industry. Her passions include writing, piano, peer mentorship, social and environmental justice.

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