Lorde did not need to play “Royals” at TD Garden Tuesday night (April 3).
She did, of course. But despite the metrics indicating the 2013 single remains the New Zealander’s most successful track, five years after it transformed Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor into a global celebrity, an educated guess says it’s not anybody’s favorite Lorde song.
Not anybody’s who’d pay $40 to watch Lorde sing for 90 minutes in Boston, anyway. “Team” and “Green Light” both topped it in terms of discernable audience rapture. I saw somebody cry during “Liability,” and at a glance, this particular round of tears wasn’t inspired by the type of unpleasantries that ever make people cry at concerts. Did anybody happy cry during “Royals?” I betcha not.
So if Lorde felt like echoing Thom Yorke’s crumogeony attitude about “Creep” or Kurt Cobain’s grumpiness regarding “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” she could absolutely get away with it. Crumogeony grumpiness scans as off brand for Yelich-O’Connor’s optimistic persona, but if there’s a way to say “My most famous song is actually shitty” without sounding like a contrarian, Lorde could probably figure it out.
Dozens of gigs deep into the Melodrama World Tour, Lorde the singer and Lorde the organization — musicians, technicians, other crew members, ect. — have long since depleted whatever wrinkles ever required ironing out on this particular series of concerts. Interpretive dancers in unassuming outfits that kinda reminded me of pajamas leaped on and off stage throughout; sometimes housed within a transparent box that, from time to time, hung from the ceiling in a state of apparent precariousness. But as opposed to the sort of overt spectacle one might expect from performers who typically book 20,000-capacity venues, it was pretty much just Lorde up there carrying the whole shebang on one shoulder made of a voice, the other consisting of total charisma.
That very same charisma did not defy God herself last time Lorde came to town and her Boston Calling ‘14 set narrowly avoided cancellation at the hands of a lightning storm. But it sort of felt like it did at the time! So we’re comfortable stating in a fact/opinion-based online publication that, yes, Lorde has Ororo Munroe powers. What she lacks — at least for another couple of years — are enough songs to leave much of note out of a 20-something-song setlist. Melodrama was played in just about its entirety, as was roughly half of Pure Heroine, plus non-album crowd pleasers “Yellow Flicker Beat” from the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack and the “Magnets” jam she did with Disclosure.
A rotating roster of covers on this tour includes Lorde renditions of Springsteen, Kanye West, Drake, and Frank Ocean tunes. Each city generally only gets one, and we wound up with “Solo.” On the one hand, the tentpole off Ocean’s 2016 magnum opus Blonde is the best song of Lorde’s selected lot of non-originals. On the other hand, it’s also the only one initially intoned by a technically better singer. So instead of something like a superiorly belted-out version of “Love Lockdown,” Lorde treated us to a not-quite-as-awesome iteration of “Solo.” But that’s a fine tradeoff. The novelty value is, like, 60 percent of the appeal cover songs anyway. Lorde is pretty great!
Nothing if not self-aware, Run The Jewels knew a portion of the crowd would be hearing words like “fuck” and phrases like “run backwards through a field of dicks” for the very first time during their opening set of righteous hip-hop. El-P speculated that many parents would feel obligated to begin a conversation with their young’uns with something akin to, “Well, Billy, you were gunna havta learn to curse from someone. Might as well be those two dudes,” on the car ride home. Killer Mike caught some backlash recently for granting an interview to NRATV (which he subsequently apologized for) but the controversy went thankfully unmentioned. I think Killer Mike should talk to whoever he feels like talking to, and Wayne LaPierre should be striped of all his personal wealth and deported to Antarctica. These are not mutually exclusive ideas, I suppose.
The Garden’s ringing acoustics do not serve music with RTJ’s ample quantity of syllables terribly well, but they did wonders for Mitski’s slow-building deluge of guitars and emphatic wails. There’s nothing quite like the irony of a certified Big Band who sells out clubs on a routine basis performing for maybe 300 people in a comparatively-empty sports venue at 7 p.m., but such is the strange fate of any arena tour’s opening act.