My bestie Alyssa and I took Rhys see Lana del Rey at El Rey Theater Tuesday night. After the less than stellar performance she gave on Saturday Night Live, I was dying to see what the hype was all about; how she had managed to sell out three shows in Los Angeles. I was fully prepared for an endless stream of snarky comments to materialize in my head. No such luck, as much to my surprise, I was impressed.
Perhaps it was the venue, the expertly mixed sound, or the crowd’s infectious adoration, but I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Her voice was rich and even, demonstrating an impressive range that the SNL television broadcast was unable to translate. Her slight interaction with the crowd softened her emotionless and apathetic presence, making her more human and less like a Stepford wife. Flanked by topiaries, palm trees and floral bushes, she donned a 60s inspired white dress, her now auburn hair deeply swept to the side, adorned with a glittery brooch. The lighting was etherial; muted blue and green hues transformed the stage into a mysterious, underwater garden scene. It was rather beautiful to look at, an almost watercolor portrait, juxtaposed with romantic and intoxicating melody.
The 50 minute set was perfectly composed, singing her most popular tracks at the end of the show. And when the last song began to end, she exited the stage, leaving the piano and violins to finish the show. It was a bold move, to which the audience was clearly unaccustomed. They eagerly awaited an encore, only to be disappointed when the house lights came up and the music abruptly changed to “Welcome to the Jungle.” I, conversely, loved the way the show ended. I have a great respect for artists who leave the audience wanting more, rather than those who overstay their welcome with pre-planend, multi-song encores that are often unjustified.
As we waited for Ramsey to wrap things up, (and for the mob of fans outside the doors to disperse), Lana traipsed down the stairs backstage from her dressing room. She made her way through the theater, stopping to thank the crew, the venue manager, and even pausing to take a photo with the sound engineer. I was impressed by her graciousness. As she drew near to the lighting desk where we stood, she looked over and said, “Thanks, girls, ‘bye!” and seeing Rhys, added, “Oh, ‘bye, baby!” A surprise, indeed. It seems as though my initial impression was way off mark. She exited the theater at around 11:45pm to about 75 people with cameras calling her name. According to her driver, she remained under the unlit marquee with her fans until 1:30am. Gracious, indeed. Bravo, Lana. Bravo. Until next time.