Kicking off the 2015 summer concert season with the Endless Summer Tour, sultry songstress Lana Del Rey took over the Molson Amphitheatre and brought in a massive crowd to hear her dark brand of cinematic pop. Opening for her was homegrown talent Grimes, a similarly magnetic artist with a very singular image.
Grimes is the brainchild of Montreal native Claire Boucher, and to date has made a name for herself playing an effervescent blend of J-pop, K-pop, and U-S-of-A pop. Though she’s indicated that her next album, due this October, will be drastically different, she stuck to her electronic repertoire for this show.
Most of the selections were from her breakthrough 2012 album Visions, including the darkly playful “Oblivion” and glitchy “Be a Body”. The crowd went wild for the ethereal space pop of “Genesis”, which sounds like a modern take on the futuristic sounds of French composer Jean-Michel Jarre. Also popular were newer songs like last year’s “Go”, which was originally written for Rihanna but ended up as a Grimes track instead. The mysterious track “REALiTi” released a few months ago made an appearance too, to huge applause.
Grimes and her energetic dance crew then made way for the towering drama-core of Lana Del Rey, who seems to operate solely on the “grandiose” setting. True to her “gangster Nancy Sinatra” image, the stage was decked out in all manners of retro-Americana, from marquee lights to a replica of a 1920s style cityscape.
It’s actually pretty admirable how she’s fashioned an ironclad brand for herself and stayed true to it. In an era where most bands hop around from genre to genre, often on the same album, Del Rey has stuck to her fifty-shades-of-film-noir sound for two and a half albums now. Painting her widescreen canvases with swaths of Golden Age nostalgia, she’s refused to go the upbeat route of her peers in the industry.
Her set then was as expected, all swelling strings and effortless cool. Her lyrics evoked bygone eras as she prowled around onstage, the embodiment of her “good girl with a dark side” persona. Of course both “Blue Jeans” and “Video Games” made their way into the performance, as did follow-up singles “Born to Die” and “Summertime Sadness”. Last year’s hazy “West Coast” made the cut as well, as did a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”.
And though the tour is called “Endless Summer”, it was not an endless night, and after “Off to the Races” Del Rey graciously thanked the crowd and went gently into the night. It probably won’t be long before we see her once more, as new album Honeymoon is due later this year and will likely bring her through our neighbourhood again.