Lana Del Rey – The Scala, 16/11/11


Music is in a funny place. Many would say the internet gives artists the chance to be who they truly want to be using only a webcam and a YouTube account. Jessie J’s initial success was founded on her sat in her London home singing in her pajamas, Ed Sheeran was able to build a career upon online numbers which caught on. It’s all very natural and authentic. This age of ‘real’ artists finding success through a raw, unpolished sound which is admittedly impressive but decidedly untreated. The character comes from their cheeky cockney twang and the charming way they come across on T4. The problem is when everything in music is so proudly real, people are far too quick to call something fake.

Lana Del Rey aka Lizzy Grant had this show moved from Soho’s Madam Jojo’s to Scala because of unprecedented popular demand after her song ‘Video Games’ quite literally took over the internet. After it’s release with B-Side ‘Blue Jeans’ she parted ways with indie label Stranger Records to join EMI and based on tonight, it will only get bigger. Her band strolled on at bang on 9 and the crowd were treated to the Psycho theme tune with images of wintery forests projected on to the huge white balloons scattered around the stage. Then she came on, sporting silky white trousers and a gold shirt, she looked unreal. The warm brown locks bouncing off the lights and a pout that makes Jolie look like a try hard page three girl. This is certainly a lot of the appeal, her beauty is similar to Dusty or Audrey. She has often been dubbed the ‘Gangster Nancy Sinatra’ because of her angelic image but shady lyricism. This is one of the few labels brandished on Del Rey that I’d agree with. On new track ‘Born 2 Die’ she sings gleefully about sex in the rain and of course ‘Video Games’ is becoming the heartbreak song of 2011 with her favourite sundress and undressing being ignored for beer and video games.

These tinges of heartache came across in the show. She would close her eyes and slowly pace the stage as the vintage footage of paparazzi and cartoons were flickering on the balloons. This sinister streak was also prominent in the penultimate ‘You Can Be The Boss’ where she spoke to the rhythm of the Brooklyn-esque beats. Songs like this stop Lana Del Rey becoming a tribute act; her songs carry a real 21st century sleaziness where she comes across as someone jaded but ever so wise to it. The show was only 40 minutes long (much to the annoyance of some of the £90 Ebay winners) but according to interviews, EMI put her on the road mid way through recording the debut LP. Her album is expected out early in 2012 and the new material from it, especially closer ‘Off To The Races’, sound good enough to stop ‘Video Games’ being a one-hit wonder and bring with them a character of Lana Del Rey as a wise-cracking love-struck girl caught in an artificial world that she doesn’t quite fit in to. This is Lana Del Rey, not Lizzy Grant and that is what people need to understand.

The criticism of her and this show comes in the fact that all Lizzy Grant’s previous musical efforts have been struck from YouTube and this new reinvention has taken off and been made to look like it was the plan all along, therefore it must be fakery. What tonight shows is that this is far more in the realm of theatre. When you have retro Tom and Jerry clips being projected on to giant white balloons, immaculate red finger nails tangling around the mic lead and lyrics like “Big dreams, gangster, said you had to leave to start your life over”, you can sort of gauge that there is a little bit of performance going on. She is, after all, calling herself Lana Del Rey, which sounds more like the part of a bunny boiler in Dallas. Just because her songs and her performances might be founded more on story and less on real life doesn’t discredit what this artist does. Seeing Lizzy Grant, for me, would spoil the magic. Her songs tell a story; just because the story in the song might not be born straight out of the life of Lizzy Grant doesn’t lessen it’s power. When the opening chimes of ‘Video Games’ sounded, all the neglect and insecurity wrapped up in that song poured out. For me, in a climate where musicians are credited on how they got to music before the music itself, it is refreshing to see an act who polishes things behind the scenes and presents Lana Del Rey, an artist with hypnotic songs sung by somebody who might not pretend to be shy of the limelight and the glamour but who knows, deep down, it’s only getting bigger.

Lana Del Rey MySpace

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