As Lorde bounced across the smoky, blue-lit stage at TD Garden, it was hard to believe she was the same girl I first saw perform in 2013.
Back then, when she was playing midday slots at music festivals like Deck the Hall Ball in Seattle, none of it was polished or colorful. She wore a long black dress and dark purple lipstick, tossing her curly mane around the stage with her famous erratic dance moves. She didn’t even have a full band behind her. It was just a keyboardist and drummer, whose seemingly borrowed bass drum had “LORDE” written hastily across the front in white duct tape.
But now it’s 2018, and it seems her three-year hiatus not only brought us the lonely and heartbroken record, “Melodrama,” but also a new technicolor Lorde.
The Lorde that performed on Tuesday was one on her ascent to pop royalty, complete with choreography, a slew of backup dancers and a mesmerizing large glass box that went from onstage platform to floating dance chamber in minutes.
She began her performance with the the dance-inducing “Sober” and “Homemade Dynamite” off the new record before launching into a five-song set of older tracks like “Buzzcut Season” and “Ribs” which pleased the fans who have been around since before “Royals” topped the charts.
But it was when she rolled back into newer numbers that the performance became intoxicating and vibrant. This was especially true when she performed “Yellow Flicker Beat” which featured one of her dancers performing an emotional dance inside the glass box as it swung and tilted 20 feet above the stage.
Though Lorde is inching her way toward the status of your everyday pop star, she still maintains some of the rawness in her performances that made me fall in love with her live shows in 2013. For example, for her first outfit change, instead of using theatrics or going offstage, she went inside the glass box, stripped to her underwear and changed into a new dress, reminding us that she was a real person the way her music does.
The “Melodrama” tour seems to also be a way for Lorde to pay homage to the musicians that inspire her by performing covers like “I Would Die 4 U” by Prince, “Shot for Me” by Drake and “Silver Springs” by Fleetwood Mac. In Boston on Tuesday, it was a beautiful rendition of “Solo” by Frank Ocean before launching into the emotional “Liability” off her own record.
Lorde had two openers on Tuesday. Mitski lay her heart out on the stage, despite the crowd of tweens inability to grasp who she was before her performance (“I think she’s a rapper?” I overheard one say).
After that, Run the Jewels obliterated our souls with numbing bass and f-bombs. But the duo, El-P and Killer Mike, shouted out to all the parents with small kids in the crowd that would need to have the “Run the Jewels talk” after their set, breaking any tension that may have been building in the hazy arena.
Though it was perhaps an odd combination of performers on paper and for the younger portion of the crowd, it was a draw for those of us with broad musical interests. Plus, watching a little girl in pigtails dance, fist pump and high-five her mom during RtJ’s set was a highlight for everyone sitting in our section.
However, Lorde missed a major opportunity to have RtJ come back out to perform El-P’s remix of “Supercut.”
By the end of the show, we were all dancing under personalized star-shaped confetti to “Green Light” and praying for the show to never end. If the “Melodrama” tour is any indication of what Lorde is capable of in the world of pop, she’ll be dethroning Taylor Swift any day now.