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Concert Review: Lana Del Rey (Hammersmith Apollo, London)

Sam Johnson attends the first in Lana Del Rey’s Hammersmith Apollo gigs for an evening of stunning music and glamour.

Lana Del Rey has come a long way since her 2011 breakthrough. She has been deemed fake and unauthentic by the mainstream media, as well as being slated as a terrible live performer ever since SNL. She’s always basked in a somewhat unsteady, fragile kind of fame unlike the formidably likable Adele, for example. It all just seems baffling because this Lana Del Rey standing in front of a sold-out Hammersmith Apollo was charming and undeniably warm, with her singing and musicianship being incredibly strong. It has been since the beginning.

Opening with the teasing ‘Cola’, Del Rey makes it clear her intentions for tonight are to titillate the good old fashioned way. Not with revealing clothes or buff backing dancers, but with classic Americana beauty. That doesn’t stop her throwing the occasional curse in however; we all know what Lana is claiming tastes like Pepsi Cola.

Her staging sees her surrounded in Hollywood glamour. Palm trees, ornate lions and Art Deco capture her all-encompassing image. It’s not all gloss though and here comes the surprise. Two songs into the set and Lana begins to mingle with her fans at the front; fans who Lana calls friends due to their relentless devotion. She disappears from stage and everything grinds to a halt as she chats with them. It all feels rather exclusionary to everyone else, but Lana Del Rey is another popstar who has fallen victim to a pack of hungry, rabid fans.

They bring with them flowers, screech loudly and soak up all of Lana’s attention. What she does for these people is similar to what Lady Gaga does for her ‘Monsters’ or Ke$ha for her ‘Animals’, although a lot less forced. Lana Del Rey becomes a human at this point and lays all the negative critique she has ever garnered to rest. She doesn’t have to sing about being an outsider and a nonconforming misfit like her peers do so tiresomely. The atmosphere and moodiness of her songs do that for her, and if we’re letting the music do the talking then she has a very strong case indeed.

Summertime Sadness‘ (an atypical anthem for the brokenhearted) and ‘Carmen’ (a story of a misguided, troubled woman) boost Del Rey’s set list and musical ingenuity substantially. She leaves out the incredible ‘Off To The Races’ though. Unforgivable if it wasn’t for ‘American’, which paints the evening as a triumph for both fans and artist: ‘Be young, be dope, be proud like an American’.

Let us not forget how it all came together for her with ‘Video Games’. A song still stunning, even two years on. How fitting, therefore, that Del Rey includes her newest song, ‘Young and Beautiful‘, which was penned for the The Great Gatsby movie soundtrack. It’s arguably her best song to date. It’s like taking all the best in her previous material and moulding a bona fide classic – these songs and her image will ultimately render her a symbol of her time. She’s a subversive icon in the making.

Check out the rest of the European tour dates on Lana Del Rey’s official website.



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