There was sad Lana, drowning Lana, sleeping Lana, smiling Lana. There was even a Lana on fire. But all of these Lanas were just projections on a screen behind the physical manifestation of Lana Del Rey, who held tight to a stoicism personified in a single pout. She wore the pout throughout her set last night at Red Rocks. Hers is a very pretty stoic face, and that was the point. Lana came to be looked at and the crowd was there to admire, fawn and stare.
The singer opened the evening by telling the crowd that she had stopped at Red Rocks once, eight years ago, on her way to work on an Indian reservation. She said she left a note that read "one day, I'm going to play here." From there, the myth was laid out and the tone was set -- Del Rey stepped fully into character.
Her catatonic pill-head sway was impeccable -- from the opening of "Cola" to "Summertime Sadness," Del Rey remained in an emotionally unchanged state of perfection. Even as the wind picked up and whipped her hair around her matte lipsticked lips, she kept a mannequin's expression -- unreal at times but still beautiful, still sellable.
The weather was still subject to her passive persona. A gust tore at her set of dead trees. It sent her massive, fan-back wicker chair toppling completely over and Del Rey just stood there, watching her throne. She alternated between flipping her hair and batting her eyelashes at her adoring crowd, wandering with minimal sultry movement for maximum effect.
Del Rey called out to the backstage for a cigarette and one appeared, though the prop immediately looked awkward. It turns out that out wind, hair and cigarettes are not a great combination. But the singer didn't seem to notice. As long as Lana was wandering, half-smiling and singing, everyone was watching -- it was hard not to. Her expressions were subtle and easy to miss, but she knew her audience was rapt. She slipped in and out of "Born to Die" and "Million Dollar Man," each song cooed just loud enough to be heard over the fan voices singing along. Lana Del Rey does listless as well as anyone.
Every once in a while, the singer would check in with her audience -- say hello, make a pointing gesture -- but for the most part, it felt like Lana was up there and the rest of the beings present were at her feet. "Young and Beautiful" may have been the pinnacle of her sexy bummer vibe for the night, but it was hard to tell; all the songs blended into each other, similar tempos, similar subject manner, similar delivery. Del Rey was consistent.
When she did step out from the solitude of the spotlight, it was to connect with her audience and take photos. Lots of photos. Del Rey spent several minutes mid-set and again later in the night stopping the music to take pictures, sign autographs and bum cigarettes. At one point her band began to play again, signaling Lana back to the mic.
Though she didn't seem ready to be done taking selfies with fans, she emerged from the throngs wearing a neon green hat that just said "rage"; it was the antithesis of the energy exchange happening at Red Rocks. Del Rey didn't incite any kind of raging -- just unfettered adoration.
"Video Games" and "National Anthem" drifted into each other, creeping toward the end of a 75-ish minute set. Never once breaking character, Lana Del Rey put on exactly the kind of show she was supposed to put on.
Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies
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