“This is crazy to me!” Lorde exclaimed during her show last Saturday night at Moda Center. “Wow! There's so many of you guys!” Congrats to those who caught the New Zealand singer/songwriter’s last visit to Portland five years ago, when she played the less cavernous Crystal Ballroom: Turns out her haunting, intense music doesn't necessarily translate to an arena concert.
It wasn't for lack of trying—to fill up the Moda's ample space, Lorde added thudding bass to just about every song, and to fill up the seemingly massive stage, she was accompanied by a group of dancers, who sometimes seemed to be doing an interpretive dance, sometimes carried her, and sometimes posed in what might be best described as a... transparent shipping container? At other times, Lorde stood or stomp-danced alone, with her quietest and loudest songs leaving the strongest impressions: Solid takes on “Sober II (Melodrama)” and “Tennis Court,” plus an unexpected cover of Frank Ocean's “Solo” and a pounding version of “Green Light.”
There was even more bass during Run the Jewels' very different, too-brief opening set; Killer Mike and El-P paced before seizure-strobing lights, blazing through urgent renditions of “Close Your Eyes [and Count to Fuck]” and “Nobody Speak.” The duo's exhilarating beats felt all the stronger in contrast to their earnest stage banter, with El-P congratulating the audience for still being alive in 2018 as Killer Mike celebrated Women's History Month and rallied men in attendance to be allies.
As tiny as Lorde seemed on the Moda stage, her remarkable voice and lyrics were as striking as ever: Even five years after the release of her debut LP, Pure Heroine, its minimalist tracks remain immediate and intimate, and despite its darker twists, last year's Melodrama thrummed with the same sense of youthful melancholy. Lorde sang beautifully, and was clearly awed to be doing so in front of so many, but her music still seems meant for dark, quiet rooms or nighttime walks with headphones. None of her songs were diminished by their accompanying attempts at stadium spectacle, but they weren't necessarily helped by them, either: I doubt anyone expected “Green Light” to end with an explosion of confetti.
RUN THE JEWELS