Lorde casually amazes at concert

The May 5 show at the Bill Graham provides an intimate setting.


Promotional tour image from Ticketmaster

Dylan Davidson, Staff Writer

When it comes to concerts and live shows, there is usually a desired aspect missing: intimacy. When hundreds of fans attend a concert, they are all only able to witness the performer on stage, singing their most popular songs and rarely injecting their personality into the performance. On May 5, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, New Zealand born artist Lorde proved that intimacy can be brought to over 500 people.

The San Francisco show was one of the first stops on Lorde’s Solar Powered Tour, which commemorates her newest album “Solar Power.” After the release of her critically acclaimed “Melodrama” album in 2017, Lorde quit social media and attempted to “return to her normal life.” In that timeframe where she was absent from the public eye, she presented the “Solar Power” album to the world, about five years after her last major release. The album is about her reconnecting with her non-celebrity lifestyle along with nature.

The stage was set for an incredible tour and when it came time, Lorde did not disappoint. The May 5 show was opened by Remi Wolf, a pop artist who hails from northern California. Wolf made it very clear that she grew up visiting and spent a lot of time in San Francisco, which made the crowd roar back in praise. Despite being significantly less popular than her New Zealander counterpart, her performance along with the crowd’s assistance ended up being a notable part of the night.

After Wolf finished her set, a dim light shined over the crowd for about 30 minutes as stage hands worked their way through the shadows on stage, wheeling things around and getting everything into place. Finally, the lights went dark and a single dim orange light found itself lingering on stage, hanging over a massive scaled-up sun-dial. The sun dial would slowly rotate around, revealing Lorde sitting in a compartment built into it. The crowd erupted, and the artist giggled off the nerves.

She would go on to introduce herself, and welcome the audience. Lorde would remark that she had just gotten over a recent sickness and commented on how great it felt to finally be out of bed, especially for such an occasion. This casual type of conversation would persist throughout the show, never droning on for too long and always keeping the crowd engaged. The artist would even say later that she enjoyed smaller venues like the Bill Graham, because it felt as if she was connecting with old friends, asking how they were doing, who they were dating, what they had been eating. It was moments like this that made the show feel more intimate.

The performance itself also helped greatly in adding to the intimate aspect as well as most of Lorde’s music being soft and interpersonal. I have never personally been to a pop-concert before, only ever going to grittier rap or rock concerts where an aggressive energy overtook the atmosphere. I felt as if there wouldn’t be as much energy but there absolutely was, just in a much different manner. A crowd full of people singing along with Lorde’s moody bedroom pop was sort of cathartic, almost as if everyone in the crowd were empathizing on the same level. An impressive feat to mention was that neither Lorde or Remi Wolf used any sort of lip-syncing techniques, and had bands play as much as a song would seem to allow. 

The first half of the performance was mostly filled with songs from the “Solar Power” album, sprinkled with four songs from the “Melodrama” record. Lorde’s vocals along with the crowd singing along were gorgeous, and the soft lighting and trippy visual effects playing along the screen behind the stage all added up to create a fantastic spectacle.

For the encore, Lorde performed her two most popular songs off of her award winning album from 2013, “Pure Heroine.” This prompted a quick costume change, to a tight-fitting blacked out number that was reminiscent of the artist’s style at the time. The crowd roared along with to teenage-anthems “Team” and “Royals.” With a final farewell, Lorde departed from the stage, and an intimate night of music at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium had ended.