Lorde at the Shrine 5/5 and 5/6/2022 Solar Power Tour: Concert Memory

I've been struggling with how to put my experience seeing Lorde in concert into words for well over a month now. Every time I sit down to write about it, my words feel robotic or not enough to sum up how beautiful and fulfilling those two nights were. But since today is the fifth anniversary of Melodrama, one of my favorite albums of all time, I figured it was finally time to see if I could find a way to articulate my feelings from that night in a way that feels close to true. 

Seeing Lorde was my treat at the end of a long week of final exams at the start of May. I actually had to beg my professor to extend the time I could take one of my final exams so that I could attend Lorde's first night at the Shrine, May 5th. Despite buying one ticket nearly a year in advance and the other months out, the stars managed to align so that I could bask in Lorde's glow for both LA tour stops. Since Lorde only comes out of hiding once every five years, I knew that these were two dates that I would have to build my orbit around. There were no make up chances in a few month's time.

So on Thursday night, I got dressed in my ode to Pure Heroine/Melodrama Lorde outfit in a safety pin jacket and black, sheer midi skirt and took a quick ride over the the Shrine where I flew through security. Even though I see the Shrine on a near daily basis while I walk around campus, I'd never actually been inside. The theater and its lobby walk a thin line between charmingly old and full of character and just dingy, but the dusty concert hall seemed like an apt and intimate place to see a Lorde show. As I was wandering around the lobby, I just so happened to nearly walk right into a YouTuber I've watched for a few years, Dustin Vuong. He was incredibly sweet as we said hello to each other, and then he pulled me in for a hug before continuing on with his friend. 

For night 1, I was situated in the balcony seats since I bought the ticket after they first went on sale. Luckily, though, I was close to the railing, and there were quite a few empty seats in a rows in front of me. While I was nervous about how the crowd would be that night through the chatter before her set and during the opener, those worries were quickly put to rest when Lorde took the stage. Remi Wolf opened both nights and struck me as a somewhat confusing musical choice for Lorde's demographic of dramatic ballads and breezy summer songs. It felt like Remi's set landed with about half the audience both nights. 

Then the lights cut out and everyone sucked in a breath and waited to see if Lorde would actually appear before us. Then, as a silhouette, she arrived to the ethereal chords of "Leader of a New Regime". The set is breathtaking, light, delicate, and nearly angelic at times before giving way to loud, cathartic, freeing moments of unbridled dancing like in the second song, "Homemade Dynamite". 

Night 1 was the most perfect concert I've ever been to. Lorde curated the a magical, insulated world for her fans, and it felt like being wrapped in a hug all night. During the set, she talked about choosing intimate venues and not leaving press and guest list spots so that the room wasn't full of TikTokers and label people who didn't really care. By limiting the number of seats, she ensured that her "real ones" would be in the audience, and she succeeded in that in spades. 

The crowd sang along to every single word of every single song, sat perfectly silent while she told looping stories about her first trips to LA, and shouted extra loud on fandom favorite lines like, "I'm nineteen and I'm on fire." We jumped our hearts out, screaming with all that we had to "Ribs," communing together around just how scary getting old is. And the crowd sang louder for "Supercut" and "Perfect Places" than they did for her radio hits like "Royals". No one yelled rude things or yelled over her talking or singing at all. The crowd moved as one. It was the most devoted, respectful crowd I've ever witnessed, and it had me leaving with the distinct feeling that we had all experienced something beautifully transcendent together.

Before I move on to Night 2, I wanted to share some of my favorite moments that have stuck with me from Night 1. First being the elderly lady across the aisle from me who danced harder than anyone else I could see. She gave her whole heart to the show in a way that it often feels like we have to give up when our teenage years wane, when we're expected to suddenly be too cool. No one that night was scared of looking out of place as we jumped and raged and sang and released together, each on our own individual journeys, yet linked together for a moment in time. 

Which leads me to my other favorite memory of the night. Before "Hard Feelings," Lorde talked about the leaked Supreme Court documents threatening Roe v. Wade and discussed how some people want our bodies to not be our own. Your body keeps score of your emotions and your feelings, and sometimes you just have to let all the pent up feelings release through dancing. She invited the crowd to use the next song as a release. Through the breakdown, Lorde danced with her signature abandon, flailing limbs and letting emotions take hold, and we all danced with her, purging the weight of the world for a moment. It doesn't make much sense on paper, but it was glorious to experience. 

That song, as well as many others in the show, made me realize that Lorde trades in emotions like no other. While other artists I love like Taylor Swift tell heavily detailed stories that unfold before your very eyes, Lorde is a different kind of storyteller. She works in raw emotions, desperate pleas, images that know exactly how you feel when there are no words to describe it. They don't unfold like movies in my head but instead as gut-punch, supercharged feelings, colors, and moments. That's what sets Lorde apart.

Also, Night 1, I gave Lorde my letter. I love to write the artists I see in concert a letter thanking them and essentially acknowledging how much they've had an impact on my life. A little token of appreciation. Normally, I only do this for artists that I have Meet and Greet or Q&A for so I know I can deliver it, but a few nights before my show, Lorde sent out a newsletter that mentioned she was considering putting out a box to collect letters. I wrote 2 index cards worth, sealed them in an envelope, and hoped that she really would have the box out. I was delighted when I got to the merch stand that off in the corner was a box that read, "Letters for Ella." The white box had a slit just big enough to drop letters into, and it was incredibly sweet. Despite shunning social media, Lorde has one of the most powerful connections with her audience because of gestures like this. To me, the box said, "I want to hear you. I care what you have to say."

For Night 2, I put on a bright, Solar Power inspired romper and headed back to the theater for a second round. Night 2 was my original ticket since it was the first announced date, and I had a floor seat, albeit, quite far back on the floor. This time, I arrived later and headed for the merch line, which snaked in multiple sections around the concessions area. I wasn't sure what kind of merch I wanted, but the night before had been so utterly magical, I felt compelled to grab a commemorative shirt. Also, the night before,  I walked back to the Village behind a guy wearing a shirt with the 3 Lorde album covers and some Shakespeare-like script about the trifecta of albums, and I wanted a second look. 

When I got to the front of the line, I went for the albums long sleeve since the shell top had sold out in small, and for the first time ever, I bought a shirt oversized. I'm very touchy about how clothes feel on my body, and I knew if a long sleeve was too tight, I would never wear it. Granted, now the shirts sleeves stretch far past my finger tips, but every time I swaddle up in it on chilly days around the house, I feel like I'm getting a hug from those very special nights. It is truly my favorite shirt.

After securing the merch, I made my way to my seats. I clicked around on my phone for a bit before striking up a conversation with a pair of friends sitting in front of me. We chatted the night away about pop music, who would go on our Mt. Rushmore of pop stars inspired by one of their tattoos, and everything music and Lorde. It was a lovely, heartwarming connection, and all through the night, we would share looks back and forth. Since it was both of their first nights seeing the show, they would cast back shocked looks, and I would nod enthusiastically. 

I hate to say it, but the crowd at Night 2 didn't quite live up to Night 1. In my estimation, they weren't as loud or as in sync as the first night, and one girl towards the back sealed the deal when she kept yelling at Lorde about "The Louvre" while she was trying to tell a story. There is nothing that makes my blood boil more than fans shouting nonsense over an artist trying to tell a story. Lorde did in fact play "The Louvre," which I was excited about since it's one of my favorite songs, and I'd been hoping to shout, "Down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre," with the crowd. 

The show itself was so intricately breathtaking both nights. Lorde travels with a slightly strange set of moving plates, risers, a staircase to nowhere, and a drum-like sphere that offered the chance to do cool lighting projections. Her band moved as dancers, in a way, setting up each scene. The set moved in a series of ways that allowed it to evolve as the story progressed, and the set list was arranged in a thoughtful three act structure that created a plot out of three albums worth of songs. While it never escaped the realm of being a concert, there were nods from musical theater in the creation of the set and in small performance nods that really elevated the otherworldly feeling of the show. It was never overly choreographed, but the effort was more than evident. 

Lorde is a brilliant performer, untouchable lyricist, and one of the most authentic, caring artists despite seeming so shrouded in mystery. Lorde is a pop star all her own.

More Lorde...

LA Night 1 Lorde Concert Vlog

Lorde is the Blueprint for a Social Media Free Pop Star

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