Lana Del Rey pleases the faithful at the PNE Amphitheatre

At the PNE Amphitheatre on Sunday, May 25

Past the trees twinkling with fairy lights, there is a land where every girl wreathes her flowing, bum-length hair with a flower crown. And the carnival aroma of popcorn and weed wafts up to the purple sky, shining with springtime mist.

No, this isn’t teenage-hippie heaven. This was Father John Misty and Lana Del Rey at Vancouver’s PNE Amphitheatre, where hipster pop queen Del Rey ruled a realm of screaming fans as part of her tour to support upcoming album Ultraviolence.

As theatrical folksinger Father John Misty took the stage, rain clouds brewed over the old red, white, and blue roller coaster track that snaked around the amphitheatre stands. The setting evoked the feel of a run-down theme park well suited to Misty and Del Rey’s faded Americana.

Swooping right into epic ballad “Only Son of the Ladies’ Man”, Misty sounded great—although the absence of his backing band, who help to fill out the sound of his big melodies, stripped away some of his lustre. Armed simply with an acoustic guitar and a country-bumpkin hat, Misty was a bearded fish out of water playing for a pop-hungry crowd decked out like a community gathering of fashion bloggers.

However, not to be dissuaded by the loud audience chatter, Misty cracked self-deprecating jokes (“If you keep pushing each other, then I won’t play this boring folk music for you”) and borrowed a flower crown from the crowd to wear for a few songs. It didn’t exactly bridge the gap, but it was mighty cute.

Then, the lady of the hour sauntered on-stage, announcing, “Hey, Vancouver! We finally made it.” Dripping honey from her bee-stung pout, Del Rey opened with “Cola”, crooning the infamous lyric, “My pussy tastes like Pepsi-Cola,” among other gems such as, “Don’t treat me rough, treat me really niceys.” Suffice to say, the self-proclaimed “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” could use some help with her rhymes.

Not being known for her moves, Del Rey mostly swayed and slinked around, playing with her Titian tresses, adorned with turquoise roses. Donning a simple black-velvet dress, she was slightly outdone by the silken gowned, look-alike drag queen in the mosh pit. But Del Rey had only to smile in the direction of some fans for them to chant her name, or wave to the audience with her talon nails for 30 girls to shriek and wave back.

Ever since her hilarious SNL fuck-up in 2012, followed shortly by her best-selling debut Born to Die, the dark-Hollywood lounge-singer alter ego of Lizzy Grant has been both jeered and cheered. Here’s the thing: no matter how much Del Rey wants to be the hip-hop–inspired Marilyn Monroe, her awkward live presence and unsteady voice just ain’t it. Her breathy, jazzy croon is still marred by off-key falsetto, clumsy bum notes, and that bizarre, put-on baby voice that oozes an overwhelming sense of ickiness.

That said, Del Rey sounded miles better last night than on record or any earlier performance. Awash in sea-foam-green lighting during the Walt Whitman–inspired “Body Electric”, the songstress wielded a newfound control of her instrument, also benefiting from the sonic backbone of a full rhythm-and-blues band. The achingly lush, melodramatic melodies of “Summertime Sadness” and “Video Games” were obvious highlights too, prompting euphoric dancing and heartfelt singing along, as cryptic clips from Del Rey’s film-noir-like videos played on the backdrop screen.

“West Coast”, the first single off the upcoming album, sounded sumptuous in its L.A.-warm, guitar-infused layers. On the other hand, Ultraviolence’s title track, which quotes the Crystals’ “He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)”, sounded like a repulsive, creepy romanticization of domestic violence. For the sake of Del Rey’s mostly young, female fans, let’s hope that isn’t the case, although the singer’s past work is already sadly swamped with themes of self-destruction and retro sexism.

Closing on a positive note, the glam-trash siren led her band into an extended, rocked-out jam of “National Anthem”. And although a good third of the crowd began filing out of the arena before the song was even over, Del Rey spent the last few minutes of the show rewarding her fans in the mosh pit, capping off the night by signing autographs for her ecstatic front-row admirers.

Comments (15) Add New Comment
mpah
anyone know where to read a review written by someone that doesn't hate the artist they're reviewing? Thanks
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Rating: 0
Markfornataro
Maybe Pepsi-Cola realized people were getting bored with the Pepsi vs. Coke taste test challenge so they sought Del Rey's help to make the test more interesting.
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Rating: 0
Josh
"mpah" Totally hit it on the nose. Tired of these COUGH-COUGH- "journalists" - who pretend to be objective but clearly can't appreciate unique music. Let's see you sing live, bud.

Congrats on the Wikipedia research, by the way. That was some insightful work.
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Rating: -11
supernintendo chalmers
Lana Del Rey fans are the most sensitive flowers, who can't seem to accept that there are people out there who do not idolize their queen as much as they do, and anyone who does have a differing opinion is accused of hate.
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Rating: +3
Leon
supernintendo chalmers my thoughts exactly the fans of this singer seem to be very vile, hopefully when they get into their teens they will look back an realise how narcissistic they/it all was.
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Rating: +12
Carla
How things change! So this new generation is supporting domestic violence in the lyrics, yet 50 years ago the Crystals song was banned for the same lyrics. I thought we were progressing, why on earth is there a woman promoting domestic violence in 2014, what's happened? I really hope no one supports this.
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Rating: +2
dont think so
I dont think she's supporting it. She's presenting a messed up character. Duh, she's playing a character.
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Rating: -7
Anon
I don't know Ms. Del Rey's work well since I'm too old to be following today's pop music. Yet, I must agree that when reading this review, I was constantly distracted by the author's lack of professionalism, and her contempt for the artist. Since when does morality or political correctness enter the evaluation of an artist's work? Also, unless you are a classical musician, there is no need to sing or play flawlessly (especially live) to do good and original music. By constantly using terms such as "f*cked-up," "bizarre," "creepy," etc., the author appears to be biased against, and unsuited to evaluate this artist' work. Each musical style/band appeals to a different audience, and Ms. Del Rey is clearly successful at what she is doing. It is okay to not like her music but this shouldn't affect the author's review to the point of undermining her journalistic credibility.
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Rating: -8
Hey
You all sound like Lana Del Rey fans! Pretentious, humourless, and really fucking boring. Enjoy!
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Rating: +7
Tiger
"don't think so" actually Jim is Jimmy Gnecco, Lizzy Grant's old boyfriend who she sings about and she always uses Bradley Soileau in her videos, cause he looks like Jimmy Gnecco. She spoke about it in many interviews. She romanticizes about these types of violent relationships, it's all very 1950's which is her shtick.

I'm sure if she actually lived as a woman back in the era she romanticizes about she would have a very different opinion to that of her outlook now living in a 'more equal' era. It just shows her immaturity and unintelligence as the era she now lives in was fought for by woman that she manages to belittle and degrade in these songs. I'm not a fan because of this song and others like it, I think it gives teenage girls the wrong impression.

She needs a good history lesson as do her fans. Her fans say she's so different to the mainstream, that she is classy and doesn't over sexualize herself in the way she presents herself but she's still selling music via a sexist approach, which is much worse than scantily clad females as it's glamorizing sex AND violence of women but most of her teenage fans are not experienced or intellectual enough to see this. Oh and didn't she do a full nude spread for GQ men's magazine anyway!

Being retro, overly manicured, wearing pretty dresses and singing about themes of sex and violence and your pussy tasting like a soft drink does not make you a classy woman! I really worry about this new generation it's SO based on aesthetics, it's scary. Lizzy Grant admits she isn't a feminist almost like it's a dirty word, there is nothing wrong with being a feminist which just means you want to be treated as an equal, Lizzy Grant should remember that she only has the platform she has now thanks to a whole load of feminists (male and female) and on her platform as Lana Del Rey she is spiting in the face of that.

Ultraviolence
He hit me and it felt like a kiss
Jim raised me up
He hurt me but it felt like true love
Give me all of that ultraviolence
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Rating: -2
Franchise
I kind of thought Jim could mean Jim Beam and she's singing about her past alcohol addiction in the context of an abusive relationship. Either way I don't always like the message of some of her songs, but if you just judge her work as an artist, she's incredible. Don't hate, appreciate.
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Rating: -13
Matt
She already said in an interview with the Metro that it's about a relationship, she said something like " in a world where everyone is bored , I like people with emotion, in reference to he hit me and it felt like a kiss". And since when did bourbon bottles talk to people and give them sweetheart names, have you actually read the lyrics?
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Rating: -6
Lou
Ya all need to check out the Lana fans at Lanaboards if you ever need a laugh!

viva
That's why I don't like Lord's songs, because she's not royalty like Lana and me. Her car is a Uno or a Brasilia Vellha. Her teeth crack on fake diamonds. Ewww. I like pretty things

Floppy seal pup
Honestly... I think you've put WAY more thought into this than Lana ever did.

I think there are a lot of intelligent people on the forum that assign too much meaning to Lana's work and give her too much credit. Liking pretty things and being subversive is basically the whole of her artistry.

LiamViljoen
Ok. I really hate being the negative one, but after thinking about it, I doubt this record is going to be a smash with the critics. I just read an article where this "journalist" described the concert in Vancouver. He started talking pretty positively about some of the other acts, then he went on to Lana and started talking about how her name isn't really Lana Del Rey (for those of us who didn't know) Of course, he used the obligatory SNL story to fill up about a third of the article. The whole thing was extremely unprofessional but I mean, do any of us really think it'll get better? If anything it might get worse, people will talk about how she's a bad role model and romanticises domestic violence (even if Eminem, a fucking MAN sings about beating + killing woman, yet critics excuse him because "he's not really being serious, sexist values right there for ya')

dsvelca
Lol. I just read that same article. Guy has no clue what he's talking about.

Gangsta Dollar Boy
Is it me or she's just overusing the word 'baby'? And don't tell me she always has cause now it's different. She used it to accompany other much clever lyrics, but now she seems to use it as a main thing and it's bothering me a little like

My baby lives in shades of blue...

I can see my baby swinging...

I'm a Brooklyn baby, I'm a Brooklyn baby...

baby.

BABY.

baby.

BABY.


btw STOP calling Brookyn Baby 'BB', THAT'S BLACK BEAUTY, ok? We should call it BBY as someone suggested.

Oh my god what's going on with these fans they must be like 10 or 12 they need help.
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Rating: -9
@Hey
I'd say Lana Del Rey's haters are equally "pretentious, humourless, and really fucking boring."

Hey, it's just pop music! The tunes are catchy, the videos look pretty. Why do you need to overanalyze the lyrics, the style,...? If you're going to pick which bands to listen to according to the message in the lyrics and whether the lifestyle of the artists fit your personal values... you are really boring!

Variety is good.
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Rating: -8
Lou
Lana is boring. Not everyone wants to listen to how being hit equates to love, fuck if we all lived in Lana's fantasy world we'd be going mental and killing ourselves...or each other. I find it amusing that most fans of this 30 year old woman are kids or very old men, says it all really.
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Rating: -5
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