Lorde’s First Sydney Opera House Show Reminded Us Why She’s A Superstar

All hail Queen Ella.


Midway her first show at the Sydney Opera House forecourt, Lorde sits down on the edge of the stage for a well-deserved breather.

“This is crazy,” she tells the crowd between heavy breaths, sweat glistening on her forehead. “My first show here was at Goodgod Small Club and I had to walk through the crowd to get to the stage. There was a rumour that Chris Lilley was there and that was just impossibly famous.”

Five years later, a lot’s changed — politics have caught up with Chris Lilley and Lorde’s days of playing grungey, 280-cap clubs are through. This year, at age 20, she released Melodrama, her faultless second album. If her 2013 debut Pure Heroine was about the magic of first love and being a teen, Melodrama documented the fallout — her first big break-up and the delirious Hot Mess phase that followed, full of as much ecstasy as there was agony.

A weird promo show at Nova’s Red Room aside, this tour marks Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s first time playing Melodrama tracks on Australian soil. And while time hasn’t dulled the genius of Pure Heroine, this was very much The Melodrama Show. Over her 90-minute set, Lorde plays just about every track from the album — ‘Homemade Dynamite’, ‘Hard Feelings’, ‘Sober’, ‘The Louvre’, ‘Perfect Places’, ‘Loveless’, ‘Supercut’, even ‘Sober II’ — everything except ‘Writer In The Dark’, a song she did at the Red Room gig by cutting all the backing music and performing vocals-only with an intensity that was terrifying.

Even the costume changes are infused with Melodrama — while Lorde darts off stage to swap out her sparkly two-piece for a different sparkly two-piece, video interludes with her spoken word poetry play. “I sip the drink, I lie to you, I go to secret worlds,” a pre-record addresses her absent ex, the spectre that looms over all of Melodrama. “After a hundred fluorescent nights, my heart begins to rebuild.”

The most emotional moment of the show, though, came as Lorde geared up to sing ‘Liability’. “This song can be very hard to sing sometimes,” she tells us. “It’s about a time in my life when I felt very alone.” A pause, and then: “Never in my life did I think this many people in my life would get me.”

“You’re making us cry!” someone yells out from the crowd.

“This is the crying show, this is the dancing show,” she laughs.

When she dips into Pure Heroine tracks, it feels like a nod to how drastically her life has changed — no longer is Ella writing about killing time in Auckland or her Mum and Dad letting her stay home from school. “This song is five years old,” Lorde introduces ‘400 Lux’. “I wrote it about growing up.”

She fits covers in the setlist too —  at one point, Lorde picks up a rainbow flag and drapes it around her shoulders. “Hey, congratulations on that same sex marriage bill,” she smiles as the crowd roars, busting out a verse of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’.

Later, as she’s making a habit of on this tour, she treated the crowd to a never-before-heard cover: this time Hunters & Collectors’ 1986 classic ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’.

But there was only ever going to be one closing song to this show.

“I told you this was the crying show and the dancing show. If you’re feeling either of those spectrum of emotions, I need you to give it to me for this song,” Lorde announces, ‘Green Light’ kicks off, and just as the song peaks, green fireworks erupt behind the Opera House.

From Goodgod to fireworks at the Opera House — it’s a final moment that reinforces Lorde’s short journey to superstardom.

Photos by Prudence Upton

Katie Cunningham is the Editor of Music Junkee. She is on Twitter.