Lana Del Rey - SECC, Glasgow, Thu 16 May 2013
The self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra's Glasgow show has a homecoming air
It’s almost staggering to believe than little more than eighteen months ago, on her last appearance in Glasgow Lana Del Rey performed for a crowd of just over 500; due to huge demand (and a spot of Great Gatsby promoting she needed to also fit in that same week at Cannes), two nights at The Academy have been rolled into to one to become this evening’s concert at the cavernous SECC.
Though billed as an ‘upgrade’, given the venue’s questionable acoustics, it’s fair to say there were a number of dissenting voices when the news was announced but the move to accommodate a much larger audience perfectly illustrates the US singer-songwriter’s meteoric rise.
It’s a far cry from her earliest attempt at forging a musical career under her own name, Lizzy Grant; signing a record contract aged twenty, she moved into a trailer park on the edge of New York to concentrate on making an album, only to have her first effort shelved. Five years later, the singer became Lana Del Rey, a stage name she felt she could 'shape her music towards', releasing first single, ‘Video Games’ in 2011 followed by the full-length, ‘Born To Die’ early the following year.
However, Del Rey’s rapid ascension to fame following an image change to, in her words, 'a self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra', saw many accuse the singer of being simply a construct of the pop marketing machine. Though indeed backed by a major label, it’s more likely that she’s been savvy to how powerful maintaining a level of mystique can be in helping create a buzz around an artist. By coupling an undeniable vocal talent with a carefully crafted look and a home-made debut video, steeped in the stylings of fifties and sixties Americana, the internet was certainly set a chatter; at a time when little was known about her.
Not so anymore; after numerous interviews, photo-shoots and product endorsements, tonight’s grand, art-deco stage set-pieces, a likely nod to her involvement in the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby adaptation, are further proof that the twenty-six year old is now pop royalty. Wearing a white lace frock, Del Rey’s appearance on stage is met with squeals of delight, from a largely youthful crowd, who have adopted the singer as one of their own (largely thanks to her relationship with Barrie-James O’Neill, lead singer of Glasgow band, Kassidy who are this evening’s support act). Indeed, after understated opener, ‘Cola’, she tells us 'it’s really great to be here,' and seems genuinely impressed by the reception she’s receiving, stepping down from the stage to touch hands with those nearest to her.
Met with the kind of rising strings that have come to characterise the Lake Placid-born artist’s sound, she interchanges husky with contralto tones, singing 'Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn is my mother' on ’Body Electric’, images of both these icons playing across screens either side of her.
While the studio production on ‘Born to Die’ has a rich, cinematic quality that gives Del Rey’s lyrics of heartache and loneliness an added poignancy, her band aren’t quite able to reproduce it live; however, amid bursts of bluesy guitar, including the odd solo and pounding drums, it’s hard not to be roused by the string-quartet’s contribution, particularly when the singer performs her stirring recent single, ‘Young and Beautiful’, and the anthemic ‘Ride’.
As might be expected, the Ivor Novello award-winning ‘Video Games’ stands out, though it’s the oddly truncated, half-sung, half-rapped, ‘National Anthem’ that’s tonight’s chosen finale; Del Rey’s band playing on long after the star has left the stage for a lengthy meet and greet session with fans in the front row.