Music review: Lana Del Rey

Reluctant performer though she is, Del Rey is undoubtedly a pop star with a distinctive aesthetic
Reluctant performer though she is, Del Rey is undoubtedly a pop star with a distinctive aesthetic
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Lana Del Rey’s sultry soundscapes celebrating the more romantic end of classic American iconography, from the Mustang (car and horse) to Mountain Dew, are not really built for arenas, being a softer, more subtle and elegantly retro-leaning approach to pop music than that produced by most of her peers. So the growing maelstrom of opening number Cruel World was not nearly loud enough to make an impact on the furthest reaches of the hall and, despite the best efforts of a great band, proceedings rarely advanced beyond a purr.

Hydro, Glasgow ***

Reluctant performer though she is, Del Rey is undoubtedly a pop star – and an interesting one at that, with a distinctive aesthetic – so her every understated utterance and wafting dance move was greeted with screams way beyond any intended import.

This show was a home- coming of sorts. Del Rey lived quietly in Glasgow for a while at the height of her fame and proclaimed its special place in her heart, even though there was no evidence of a particular connection, either in 
her music or her diffident delivery.

Del Rey does not do big gestures. Despite the overload of escapist imagery in her music, her current show is a relatively unadorned affair, just her stage surname hung in neon above the stage, two dancers who she occasionally joined in some low-energy movement, such as the languorous slow dance of Cherry, and little else to compensate for her lack of va-va-voom.

Her voice alone could not carry her in such a large space, lovely though her soft, soaring soprano sounded on Shades of Cool. Her earlier 
material, including the swooning Blue Jeans, romantic fatalism of Born To Die, seductive melody of her breakthrough song Video Games and the relative drama of Summertime Sadness, carried more weight than some of the more impressionistic numbers in the set though the luminous piano ballad Change stood out for its lyrical purpose and the light, carefree Ride, accompanied by footage of big prairie skies and bikers on the highway, was a liberated joy.

She concluded her set, barely an hour after taking the stage, with Off to the Races which allowed for some meatier rock guitar action.

While Del Rey descended from the stage to commune with the front rows and pose for selfies with her fans, the band kept the music simmering before finally letting it boil over as Del Rey headed for the sanctuary of backstage.

FIONA SHEPHERD