- 23 Jun 19
It's the first time Lana Del Rey has performed in Ireland since her mesmerising set at 2016's Electric Picnic. This time, the elegant songstress was back on her own steam, to perform to over 20,000 adoring fans. It turned out to be a a magnificent and very personal show.
Coachella? No, this is Malahide Castle! But judging by the outfits you’d swear you had been transported to the legendary festival situated in the California desert. Men in vogue floral suits, women with Gucci scarves draped around their necks and so, so many. maxi skirts.
“I just wanted to make Lana proud!” a girl remarks to me when I compliment her outfit.
The singer celebrated her birthday on June 21. Tonight, dedicated fans rushed to the front of the stage as soon as the doors opened, clutching bouquets of flowers, birthday cards and gifts. They really do love her.
Dublin rapper Kojaque is the first act of the night. He was announced last-minute earlier this week but he has come prepared and knows how to work large, open-air crowds.
The other supporting act is the Belgian-Egyptyian singer Tamino. He was hand-picked by Lana herself after his cover of her 'Mariners Apartment Complex’ went viral. His moody eyes and frequent falsettos keep the audience intoxicated.
At 9:00pm, Lana emerges onstage in all-white, a flicked wing eye-liner and beehive hair - her signature style encapsulates the ‘60s supreme aesthetic for the 21st century. She sings the opening notes to ‘Born To Die’ and a wave of elation washes over the audience.
“Oh wow!” Lana says into the mic. “With the way you guys sing it, it’s more like ‘Born To Live’!”
There’s a dreamy quality to the concert: she announces each song as if she’s unsure of its likely reception but is always met with mass applause from the starry-eyed crowd. At one point, she stops singing and instead makes her way down to the barrier and greets fans, taking selfies and collecting her many birthday gifts. An individual hands her a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses and she immediately dons them on her head.
With her sixth album still in the process of being recorded, she chooses an eclectic mix of songs, spanning her entire career to date. She mashes a medley of five songs into one that ends on ‘Young and Beautiful’ - from Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby.
Green plants climb over the stage-set and for ‘Ride’, her ethereal backing dancers prop themselves on swings and oscillate wildly to the music.
She recounts her day. She says that, whilst getting dressed this morning, she “couldn’t help but feel moved listening to Irish traditional songs.” She expresses her admiration for the “folk sensibility” and the story-telling embedded in trad music.
“Umm… how about ‘Video Games’?” she says in her delicate voice – and everyone cheers.
Now it’s Lana’s turn on the swing and she moves back and forth while crooning out the lyrics to the 2011 single that saw her rise in fabulous notoriety. Everyone is caught up in the moment, waving their hands to the melody.
Near the end of the concert, when the darkness has taken the day captive, Lana drops a bombshell absent-mindedly, as if she just remembered something mundane: “Oh… new record in two months!”
The last song of the night is her 2018 single ‘Venice Bitch’ and at nine minutes long, it’s a show-stopping finale. The two backing dancers descend off the stage, clasping hands and bearing white roses to gift to audience members. Confetti bursts out onto the stage and then descends on Lana like rain, as she sings her final notes.
Strangely, Lana decides to sacrifice an encore preferring to return down to the barrier and greet more fans. The band plays on as she spends the last 10 minutes signing vinyl records, taking selfies and exchanging kind words. With the cult-following she possess, this seems like a gracious move to thank her devotees personally.
With a final guitar solo, Lana waves farewell to everyone and disappears backstage. It’s like snapping back into reality when it’s time to leave the venue: everyone seems bleary-eyed and dumbfounded. Lana pulled off a heavenly show, bringing the string of Malahide Castle dates to as spectacular finale.