Lana Del Rey brought that wintertime sadness to Sydney last night with the first of two sold-out shows at the Enmore Theatre. The perennially-doomed queen of ominous indie-pop has divided the music world more than any other artist in 2012. Some dismiss her as a gimmick, while others - like myself - swoon at the very mention of her name. For me, Born To Die is the ultimate concept album. Liz Grant (Lana's real name) has breathed her very own film-noir heroine to life and fearlessly marches her through the seedy underbelly of the American dream - song by song, video by video. It's a flawlessly constructed soundscape that evokes images of wine-stained party frocks and cheap velour curtains. Translating that multi-layered sound into a live performance was always going to be difficlut but the 26-year-old was a revelation last night.
From the moment Lana strolled across the stage and casually began singing "Blue Jeans", all memories of that infamous Saturday Night Live appearance dissipated. She looked every inch the vintage glamour girl in her pink babydoll dress and trademark floral headpiece. The usually depressed diva positively beamed as she descended into the audience and mingled with screaming fans. I couldn't take my eyes off her. It was her real-life prom queen moment and she absorbed the adulation with grace and good humour. After climbing back on stage, Lana introduced herself and then launched into new song "Body Electric". It's quintessentially Del Rey with lyrics full of yearning and a chorus that sneaks up on you out of nowhere. Singles "Born To Die" and "Summertime Sadness" followed and they couldn't have sounded more perfect.
Hearing "Without You" was the highlight of the show for me. I still can't believe the glorious torch song has been relegated to bonus track status. It has hit written all over it and would probably be played at weddings for the next 20 years if released. "Million Dollar Man" made less of an impression but her haunting rendition of Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" was a triumph. If you think Lana is a one trick pony, listen to this cover on YouTube and get correct. "Carmen" and career-making viral hit "Video Games" came next and the sadcore pioneer unleashed some unexpected operatic flourishes - putting any doubts about her vocal ability to bed. The big-lipped beauty then performed "Radio" (one of the album's few filler cuts) before ending the 11-song set with "National Anthem". Lana walked back into the crowd to salute her fans, sparking a near riot, before politely saying goodbye and leaving without a backward glance. The lights went on and I immediately decided to go again tonight for another dose of gloomy pop perfection.