The singer played a sold-out show to more than 15,000 fans
It was a chilly October night – at least that's what it felt like – at DTE Energy Music Theatre on Sunday, but Lana Del Rey did her part to heat things up.
The enchanting pop singer put on a moody, dreamy show for a sold-out crowd of 15,000-plus, a gigantic leap from the Masonic Temple where she made her Detroit debut a year ago. Her 13-song, 75-minute performance was all about atmosphere and her haunted version of Americana: dark, tragic and mysterious, exploring the myth of old Hollywood glamour and the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles.
Del Rey is a transfixing figure to watch perform, her minimalist swaying amplified for maximum effect by her swirling four-piece band and her handsome light show. She can seem aloof or even uncomfortable at times, but if you buy into the Lana Del Rey character – the creation of the singer born Lizzie Grant – it's easy to get wrapped up in the theatricality of it all.
On a stage decked out with the facades of a pair of New York skyscrapers and a series of high wattage studio lights, Del Rey emerged to the soothing sounds of Santo & Johnny's "Sleep Walk" and rolled right into "Cruel World," the opening track from last year's "Ultraviolence" album. Wearing a short green dress, she sauntered to the front of the stage and blew kisses to the crowd, dropping down to the barricades in front of the stage to take pictures with fans.
"Cruel World" is one of many of Del Rey's tracks that swell and build to dramatic highs, driven by an undercurrent of fatal romance. "I will love you 'til the end of time," she sang during "Blue Jeans," making it sound like a doomed love letter between two teenagers. Songs like "Born to Die" and "Summertime Sadness" speak for themselves.
Del Rey sang in a pouty purr that rose to a ghostly howl (during "Cola"), and the crowd treated her every movement like God himself (or herself) had just made a pronouncement from the heavens. At one point during "West Coast," she knelt down to the ground, and the crowd reacted like she had just given them all new cars. She sat down in a chair and lit a cigarette to start off her cover of Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel No. 2," and the reaction was like she had invited everyone in the crowd on her tour bus to hang with her after the show.
For her part, Del Rey is good to her fans as well – at least those close to the stage. Late in the evening, after "Shades of Cool," she paused the show and popped down to take selfies and sign autographs, a thrill for those down front but not so much for the fans up on the lawn several hundred yards away. (At least they got to watch the action unfold on DTE's new-this-season, much improved video screens.)
Del Rey wrapped the show with "Off to the Races," its mix of sex and danger emblematic of the concert's theme. With a promise to come back next year, she danced off the stage and left without an encore, a lesson in leaving people wanting more. In a way, that's what Del Rey does best, and her distance as a performer offers an exercise in delayed gratification.
Canadian singer-songwriter-producer Grimes opened the show with a 50-minute set of headbanging electro-pop. Joined by three dancers, she took turns programming beats, dancing around the stage and screaming into her mic on songs like the bubbly "Oblivion" and the hammering "Go." She had no filter for her enthusiasm and seemed thrilled to be playing such a large stage, even as fans were still filing in and an unseasonal chill hung in the air.