Concert Reviews

Lorde at Sound Academy – March 15, 2014

There once was a little girl by the name of Ella. She loved music so much that she took part in the school’s battle of the band competitions at the age of twelve. All she ever wanted as a child, was to sing and perform music that truly meant something to her.

A handful of years later, after working under development deals, thousands of fans gathered downtown Toronto at the Sound Academy to witness the phenomenon from New Zealand. Lorde. The line up began a solid nine hours prior in torturous cold weather. I was there. She actually mentioned that the venue is difficult to get to without public transport, yet appreciated the scenic view of the Toronto skyline and lake. To me, the entire seventy minute performance was a reenactment of the emotional journey of her rise to fame.

Her journey begins in complete darkness with Glory And Gore. Around this time last year, no one really knew of her name, and she had just released The Love Club EP. Then, a single spot light focused the attention of the Sound Academy onto the face of seventeen year old Ella Yelich-O’Connor. The slow exploration into light continued over into her upbeat song Tennis Court. Here we began to witness the waking up of her creative genius. Sporting a white jacket, tank top and pants, she danced like Gollum spontaneously. What’s not to love about her?

The stage brightened up in an eerie blue light. And the emotions in the room intensified with moody Buzzcut Season. This signified her emergence from being unknown and being placed into the eyes of media and millions of fans.

Over the last year, she experienced so much love and hate at the same time. One of the main fire starters was when false rumours spread that she insulted Justin Beiber and One Direction fans, saying that the boys are ugly. This launched those fan bases into a worldwide assault on Lorde and her loved ones. They picked on the fact that she is dating a male who happens to be of Chinese decent. In her cover story with Rolling Stone, she says “You almost wonder about humans. Walking around Auckland, it’s easy to notice that it’s a diverse city with lots of interracial relationships. That’s why the reaction came as such a surpose to me. No one I know would even think this was a big deal.” And she is absolutely right. It’s a joke that a seventeen year old can be mature enough to see past the colour of a person’s skin, while thousands of ignorants cannot. And then just a few months ago, Lorde scored big with not one, but two Grammy awards, setting the naysayers back. Despite this new fame, as chaotic as it is, Ella is still down to Earth. This is seen in her very candid interview with another inspirational youngling, Tavi Gevinson of Rookie Magazine.

Things became beautiful in the middle of the set. Video footage of a suburban neighbourhood in the fall played on the three monitors in the background as 400 Lux was performed. “We’re never done with killing time. Can I kill it with you?” I believe it’s the unorthodoxed, loving and free-flowing feeling it unleashes that really hits the pleasure centre in my brain. This track is my favourite track off of her album “Pure Heroine”

Lorde talked to the crowd directly before Ribs. She explained that this song was written about a year ago during a school holiday. It’s a song that makes her feel good and comfortable. And that she is now blessed to be living the incredible dream of being able to share these personal songs with us. Thank you Ella. It was a slice of bliss.

After a dazzling light show in the dark and many claw hands later, Lorde performed Royals in a dramatic fashion. Crowns displayed in the background as she performed her number one hit. Team launched the atmosphere of the room into full momentum. The moment was pretty much like when Gandalf the Grey transformed into Gandalf the White in the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. We finally got to witness the transfiguration of Lorde the Teenager into Lorde the Golden Wizard. Ella transcended above “royalty” in a celebration with black and white confetti raining down on her fans.

So, what draws me to her music and persona? I can’t quite pin down. Her mystique? Her stage presence? Her volumized hair? Or that I wished that I was as brave as her at that age? Whatever it is, I’m hooked.

The night ends off with the story coming back full circle. Despite finally breaking out of the darkness and experiencing triumph. There is perhaps a new sense of isolation in her life now. How much success can one take and how far will it drive you? She is mature beyond her years and clearly knows of this burden. The final song Lorde performed in Toronto was A World Alone. Her last words were a definite and swift summarization of her thoughts on what haters and narrow-minded people say about her. And it’s probably something we should all try to learn to do as well. She said “let them talk.”


About author

Chief Editor & Founder of Live in Limbo. Host & Producer of the Capsule Podcast. Sean is an award-winning photographer and Nikon Professional Services member. His work has appeared on the CBC, Pitchfork, and MUCH. He is an Academy Delegate at the JUNOs (CARAS) and has been involved in the Toronto music scene since 2005. He is also an endurance and CrossFit athlete. You should follow him on Twitter @SeanChin.