“Hearing all you singing along to the songs is such an amazing thing,” Lorde confessed to a sold-out Prudential Center on Friday night. “To hear you guys sing these weird things I wrote down on my cell phone, and now they belong to you.”
The 21-year-old New Zealander dazzled audiences last week at Newark’s Prudential Center on April 6 and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on April 4 as part of her “Melodrama” World Tour, addressing the audience like they were old friends catching up. Singer Mitski and rap duo Run The Jewels opened the show as audiences trickled in for the main event. At Barclays, co-writer of “Melodrama” and Lorde’s close friend Jack Antonoff ran from his Bleachers show at Madison Square Garden to support and join the avant-garde popstar.
During an outfit change, Lorde entered a clear rectangular box that hung over the stage. The audience quietly watched as she adjusted her white two-piece crop top and flowing skirt — a moment we usually aren’t supposed to see.
These two minutes became a standout moment, reflecting her growing vulnerability from her teen angst debut album, “Pure Heroine,” to her sophomore album “Melodrama.”
Despite featuring surefire hits like “Homemade Dynamite” and “Perfect Places,” “Melodrama” didn’t rise to the same chart-topping success as “Pure Heroine,” but the audience’s palpable energy indicated otherwise. Lorde brought back old favorites like “Ribs” and “Royals,” entrancing the crowd into a synthy, witchy euphoria.
Catering each show to the respective city, Lorde sat down with Jack Antonoff in Brooklyn for a riveting acoustic cover of St. Vincent’s “New York.” While two days later in in Newark, she whipped out native New Jerseyan Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” as the crowd shouted the his name repeatedly.
What makes Lorde’s shows so exceptional and intimate is the rawness she emanates throughout. Before Lorde performed “Green Light” — the last song before an encore, she implored the audience to divulge all their energy into the song and assured them that she would do the same. The crowds roared in the acceptance of her challenge. The stadium even quaked during the chorus — bodies unapologetically dancing to the song.
Songs like “Supercut,” “Perfect Places” and “Green Light” are rife with nostalgia, bittersweetness and restlessness. One wouldn’t expect these extremely emotional to be the songs that would rile up audiences the most. However, during the performances of these hits, the audiences bounced joyously, embracing the spectrum of emotions.
Tisch junior Chrissi Alexis reflected on her experience at the concert and the personal impact “Melodrama” has had on her.
“It was so emotional for me because I recently got my heart broken, and I started listening to that album before that even happened,” Alexis said. “But that album really describes everything I was going through, so it was one of the most cathartic experiences I could have.”
Cathartic indeed. As the piano prelude to “Liability” began to play, the Newark crowd belted the first few lines before Lorde could even begin singing. She graciously smiled and paused to hear the audience sing the heavy lyrics. She eventually picked up where the crowd left off and awed everyone with the performance.
It was a sweet moment that encapsulated the show itself. Maybe “Melodrama” didn’t break all the records for an unexpected pop icon, but the album provides nuance and catharsis for those who are open and willing to listen. The shows became a place to let inhibitions go.
Lorde elaborated on her feelings about the tour in between songs.
“It can be very comforting because a lot of the songs are very personal, very scary, sad little thoughts,” Lorde said to the audience. “To hear you sing them back to me makes me feel like I’m not alone.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 9 print edition. Email Joel Lee at [email protected]