Lana Del Rey @ Hammersmith Apollo 19th May 2013

Lana Del Rey at Hammersmith Apollo was a gig that I was looking forward to. The Paradise tour was in fact her first jaunt of the UK. I had only witnessed Del Rey live once before and that was the super intimate Jazz Cafe show last year. I did have the chance of seeing her perform at BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend 2012 but her set clashed with Florence and the Machine. I actually kind of regret the decision I made back then even though I am a big Florence. Another Lana date I wanted to attend was the iTunes show but I guess for that tickets were won by non Lana fans (I had a friend who won a ticket but opted not to go. I couldn’t take up that ticket because you can’t pass them on).

Aside from all of that I arrived at the Apollo around 10.15am to see that there was already a queue outside the venue. Having the District and Circle lines closed was a slight hindrance. As the day went on people were then given wristbands to stop queue jumpers. I had later found out that only 100 wristbands given out. Even though I was in the 1st pen the wristbands stopped the moment it had got to me. Around 6pm my friend and I were given the final 2 wristbands. It turns out we were 99th and 100th in the queue. The one thing I was gutted about was the fact that I had missed Lana’s dad who was handing out goodies. Now I do not know what was being handed out but one thing I knew which was given out was the Paradise box set. I kept on thinking to myself I already had the box set so why would I want another. But deep down it hurt a little.

So at 7pm the doors open. With the fact that the barrier can fit almost 100 people made me hopeful that I would get a spot at the front. But having 3 doors open and any slight hold up then resulted in myself having 2nd row. My only gripe with this was the fact I had nothing to hold onto and if you have someone taller than you in front you’re screwed. Come to think about it this is the reason I turn up and queue early.

It was gone past 9.10pm when the stage curtain dropped down revealing an amazing set which sported candle sticks, Palm Trees and even two Golden Lions which were at the front of the stage. In fact from the set design I was picking up on a Roman vibe. As soon as Miss Del Rey appeared wearing a white dress the crowd wild. Opening this up was Cola which was a sleek Pop song with a delectable melody. The lyrics were amazing as well and everyone sang along to them. One memorable line being “My pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola/ My eyes are wide like cherry pie”. It was then onto Body Electric which like Cola was taken from the Paradise EP which was released last year. “I’m looking for all the faces I know, all the faces I’ve seen over the last 3 years. We have played in almost every country and finally we’re back to where it all started. Absolutely unbelievable” Lana said before getting stuck into this superb song. I found this to be hypnotic aided by moody/ powerful lyrics. “Elvis is my daddy/ Marilyn’s my mother/ Jesus is my bestest friend”. Body Electric was in fact an epic sounding tune with some excellent guitar riffs. Following on was a trio of songs which were taken from the debut album Born To Die. This slick sounding song was originally a B Side to the debut 7” of Video Games. Blue Jeans was an entrancing song which was played at a steady pace along with lyrics every one sang along to. My favourite part had to be the middle 8 when the pace picked up. Still Blue Jeans had lyrics you just want to sing along to and it turned out to be a right crowd pleaser. Lana also made full use of the string section. Born To Die was immediately played straight after . This was a down tempo ballad which tells the story of a doomed relationship. “Feet don’t fail me now/ Take me to the finish line/ Oh my heart, it breaks every step that I take/ But I’m hoping at the gates, they’ll tell me that you’re mine”. Born To Die which shares the same name as the debut album went down well with the crowd. It had been superbly written and its lyrics infused with the melody perfectly. Carmen then followed straight on and it got plenty of cheers from the crowd. This number told the tale of a doomed woman who sells her body on the streets. The lyrics were top class but my favourite part had to be the middle 8 “Baby’s all dressed up with nowhere to go/ That’s the little story of the girl you know/ Relying on the kindness of strangers/ Trying cherry knots smiling, doing party favours/ Put your red dress on, put your lipstick on/ Sing your song, song, now the camera’s on/ And you’re alive again”. The song itself was set in Coney Island and its lyrical content was quite intense. Blue Velvet followed on and Lana recorded this cover for her 2012 H&M campaign. This cover was both sexy and sultry plus the lighting was blue as was expected. Del Rey crooned along and made this well known song her very own. Up next was the newest song by Del Rey and this being Young And Beautiful which she contributed to the film The Great Gatsby. This was an epic song which resulted in everyone singing along to every word. “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful”.

American revolved around Del Rey’s fascination with Americana and icons of American culture. This again featured on the Paradise EP and it was sung at a steady pace. Its lyrics were fascinating and it also went down well with the packed out crowd. Without You ended the evening and it saw Del Rey enter the pit where she began singing this number. Without You was a beautiful ballad which was phenomenally delivered. My favourite part was the middle 8 “We were two kids, just tryin’ to get out/ Live on the dark side of the American dream/ We would dance all night, play our music loud/ When we grew up nothing was what it seemed”. The pace there picked up then after it changed again. After Without You was over she sung a few lines of Knockin’ On Heavens Door. Once over Lana left the stage only then for an intermission before the next track of the evening. What came up next was Ride which was a pop ballad which involved parental problems, alcohol consumption, and loneliness. When Del Rey took to the stage the place erupted with cheers. It started off slow then it progressed into something pacey when it got to the infectious chorus “I hear the birds on the summer breeze, I drive fast/ I am alone at midnight/ Been trying hard not to get into trouble but I/ I’ve got a war in my mind/ So I just ride/ Just ride”. This was an extraordinary tune which was phenomenally delivered. When Lana announced that the next song of the night was Summertime Sadness there were plenty of cheers. This was a slow tempo ballad which was also very hypnotic at the same time as well. Its lyrics were utterly infectious and everyone was singing along with every word. Burning Desire then followed on. Despite this featuring on the Paradise EP it did not feature on the physical version but the digital release instead. This number was sung at a steady pace and it had catchy lyrics which were incredibly delivered. I also picked up on rock elements when witnessing this song being performed live. The penultimate song of the evening was Video Games. This was both very sleek and sultry. This number was strong and had a steady pace. Video Games had a magical feel to it. “I just want to say how important it’s been to make my record here” Del Rey then said to the packed out crowd before ending the enchanting evening with National Anthem. The lyrics to this song get you hooked plus it was extremely upbeat as well “Money is the anthem/ Of success/ So before we go out/ What’s your address?”. What I liked was the light and breezy chorus which everyone sang along to “Tell me I’m your National Anthem/ Tell me I’m your National Anthem/ Red, white, blue’s in the skies/ Summer’s in the air and baby/ Heaven’s in your eyes/ I’m your National Anthem”. This epic song ended with Lana Del Rey coming into the pit greeting, signing or taking photos with people who were on the front row.

Del Rey was there for almost 15 minutes whilst the band played an extended outro of the song. National Anthem ended what had been a magical night which simply took my breath away.

SET LIST

Cola
Body Electric
Blue Jeans
Born To Die
Carmen
Blue Velvet
Young And Beautiful
American
Without You

ENCORE

Ride
Summertime Sadness
Burning Desire
Video Games
National Anthem

OVERALL: I thoroughly enjoyed this evening which featured amazing music. Words cannot describe how incredible Del Rey actually was. The songs which were performed live were excellent. At only 14 songs long this set was over in a flash. It was a shame that songs such as Million Dollar Man or Radio appeared on this tours song list. Also the fact Lana came down into the audience at the end of National Anthem was quite something. Despite being 2nd row I still managed to get my ticket signed.

I cannot forget to mention the support who were Scottish 4 piece Kassidy. When I had first witnessed them play back in 2010 I didn’t take to the music that was showcased. This time I appreciated it more. Songs such as Oh My God, The Traveller and Night In The Box were brilliant. The fact I was 2nd row and the fact it was like a furnace inside resulted in me not enjoying it as much.

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