Lana Del Rey - Corinthia Hotel, London
Only a couple of months ago, hardly anyone really knew of Lana Del Rey; flash-forward to now and she’s the name on everyone’s lips. Probably 2012’s surest top tip, she’s now become one of 2011’s biggest acts on the back of her hugely successful debut ‘Video Games’ and, having missed out on her debut London show last week, we weren’t about to turn down the opportunity to see her perform a short acoustic set in the intimate surroundings of London’s Corinthia Hotel, where she’s been holed-up for the past month.
Whatever the reality of the whispers around her background, if you haven’t got the talent, you’re quickly going to get found out in such a stripped-back setting - and we were left in little doubt that she has the talent in abundance. With vocals in turns haunting, sultry and beautiful, Del Rey is a captivating presence on-stage and it’s hard to imagine that, even with a full backing band, attention would be anywhere but on her. It’s far from conventional, veering into Kate Bush-esque territory with certain ticks, but it’s consistently dynamic and despite having just a handful of gigs under her belt, it’s a remarkably assured performance. Even a waiter smashing a glass and, later on, some vigorous cocktail preparation fail to derail her; she just smiled, kept calm and carried on.
It’d be a formidable task for anyone to follow up ‘Video Games’ but while what we hear tonight won’t be the finished version, ‘Born To Die’ is a more-than–worthy follow-up. Swearing is, of course, never clever kids, but can be strangely seductive when falling from the mouth of an angel – “Take a walk on the wild side / Let me fuck you hard in the pouring rain”. A sharp turn of phrase, along with the more eye-catching lyrics, is also a consistent presence in the six songs displayed tonight – “You look like a million dollar man / So why is my heart broke” (‘Million Dollar Man’).
Even without the string backing, single of the year (arguably) ‘Video Games’ is a heartbreakingly sublime number and provides a majestic finale to the “short but sweet” set (her words, not ours). Whatever reaction follow-up single ‘Born To Die’ or even her debut full-length receives, on the basis of tonight's set, the name Lana Del Rey will echo through hearts and minds for some time yet.
MILLION DOLLAR MAN
BORN TO DIE