Lana Del Rey Hypnotizes

Throwback diva prompts Erwin Center to song

Lana Del Rey’s approach to performance seems underwhelming. No avant-garde outfits, no extravagant stage setups, no dance chorus. Yet as the New York siren waltzed onstage to a three-quarters-full Erwin Center Sunday night in an oversized black sweater and leggings mumbling the words to “13 Beaches” in her breathy haze, I found myself hypnotized.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Hawaiian stage props – palm trees, adjacent lawn chairs, and various boulder clusters overlaid by blue and pink hues – welcomed her, while an LED display looped beach scenes and Fifties videos as two side screens captured her live in black and white. Entering stage left, she and two dancers swayed gracefully until reaching the front where they layed down for “Pretty When You Cry,” the screens projecting water as they mimed a synchronize swim.

Afterward, LDR (née Elizabeth Woolridge Grant) moved to centerstage and transitioned into “Cherry,” dancing in place while the dancers mimiced her. Her moves came off as delicate as her voice, soft smile, and hair flip. She closed her eyes when she sang.

“I wrote this song 10 years ago,” she announced. “It’s hard to believe. This is ‘Yayo’.”

Grabbing a guitar, she centered herself in the spotlight as waves of “love you Lana” burst from the arena. When the music video for “Born to Die” acted as backdrop to the next song, the crowd sang along to the hit off of her 2012 album of the same name.

“Thank you so much for singing with us,” she nodded. “I’ve been staying in Austin all week, and I just wanna say I see myself here. It’s one of the coolest places.”

The audience reciprocated by intoning the hooks to each song, the soft nostalgia of the music also prompting dancers. For the headliner’s part, two swings descended from opposite ends of the stage for her dancers during “Young and Beautiful.” When “Ride” followed, Del Rey took her place on the right hand one, her hair flowing behind her and her hoops walloping as she swung.

That drove the spectators mad. Back at centerstage, she asked the audience for requests. “Million Dollar Money” hovered above the rest.

“I could do that one, but I don’t know all the words,” she teased. “You’ll have to help me. You’re good at that.”

The moody, heartbreak ballad delivered, so she asked for more suggestions and opted for an a capella version of “Art Deco” from her 2015 LP Honeymoon before proceeding to “Ultraviolence.”

“There’s a lot of people camping out to get to the front to give me notes and presents, and I just want you to know I keep them all and read them after tour,” she noted. “You guys are the freaking best.”

The song faded and she remained with the crowd for another full five minutes in silence, hugging, taking selfies, and talking to mesmerized fans. Then she gathered her offerings and ran offstage.

“Thank you for putting us on such a big stage,” she bowed upon return.

When “Off to the Races” began, her two dancers returned to join her in a final dance. Del Rey paced across the stage, then departed for good amid air kisses to a guitar solo by one of her four bandmembers. Only then, after 90 minutes, did my trance lift and I realized how heavy Lana De Rey’s minimalism hits. Some doubtlessly fell in love without even knowing it.

Erwin Center set-list, 2.10.18.

“13 Beaches”
“Pretty When You Cry”
“Born to Die”
“Blue Jeans”
“White Mustang”
“God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women In It”
“When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing”
“Happy Birthday Mr. President” (Marilyn Monroe cover)
“National Anthem”
“Lust for Life”
“Change/Black Beauty/Young and Beautiful”
“Video Games”
“Million Dollar Man”
“Art Deco”
“Summertime Sadness”
“Off to the Races”

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Lana Del Rey, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant

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