The debut album of Elisabeth Woolridge Grant “Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant” had turned out to be a complete washout. Later, after joining the name of Hollywood star Lana Turner and of the Ford Del Rey, Elisabeth became Lana Del Rey, who is an international star. In the world of skimpily dressed singers, flash-in-the-pan hits and kitsch on the stage, here she comes – outstanding, unique, a little withdrawn. She’s hard to classify and to compare with any other singer. She has created her own style in music, Hollywood glam ballad which she called so herself, she has created her own image. She is the queen of retro, she wears vintage clothes, her inevitable attributes are: garlands, long nails, eyeliner and false lashes. Her songs are not mainstream but they resound in radio. One may not like them, but it’s hard not to know them. Lana stirs up extreme emotions and not everybody are able to take to her. Nasty ones impute that she wouldn’t have achieved so much had it not been for her millionaire father, that she embellishes her biography with alcohol and drug abuse, and her lips are a plastic surgery fail. When being interviewed she tells that she slept with many men of the music industry but unfortunately, none of them has helped in her career, she rather doesn’t win new fans, and those people who are not fond of her do not know if the singer boasts or complains about that. She allegedly has anxiety and would rather be dead like her idols – Kurt Cobain or Amy Winehouse. People either admire her or do not understand that admiration. I definitely belong to the former group. I’ve been a devoted fan since I saw her Born to die video. I love her music, and while listening to it, I’m thinking – I could agree with that, that’s how I feel. It’s worth emphasizing that Lana is not only a performer – she also composes music and writes lyrics herself. I was excited then for Her show at Orange Warsaw Festival, especially that I had missed the opportunity to see her several years ago at Torwar Hall in Warsaw.
Even though Lana wasn’t the official headliner that day (Die Antwoord played after), it was obvious that Służewiec Racecourse had filled up just for her. The fans wore garlands in honour of their queen, even the men did not shun to have them. I knew that Lana maniacs would gather at early hours and I wasn’t mistaken. The festival’s poor organizing made anticipation even more difficult to bear. Marcelina, whose songs do not appeal to me at all, played as first. Three and a half hours needed to pass for a new band to appear – Skunk Anansie. Such a break between the performances was another drawback. Skin, the band’s vocalist, was a powerhouse as always and livened up the crowd tired with waiting. – Are you waiting for Lana? I love her – she said. Lana was to show at nine but as the hour was drawing nearer, I found it more and more difficult to breathe because of the pressing crowd. She showed up in a garland and airy, cream-coloured dress as usual. Screaming, crying and common hysterics began. People started pushing each other and fighting only to be closer to the stage, and what is worse, the situation continued throughout the concert. I stood close to the stage and I was exhausted with people hitting and pushing me constantly. After the show, I heard foreigners saying that Polish people do not know how to behave and I have to confirm that unfortunately. People fainted every now and then so paramedics had their hands full.
Lana began with Cruel World. I was very curious how she would do live. I’ve seen various shows of her and the effects haven’t always been delightful (to put it mildly). She was singing live but was supported with half playback. Looking objectively, Lana does not belong to the vocalists who have the best vocal technique. However, I wouldn’t say that she can’t sing. She can! The problem is that she seems to be going astray in the singing, it happens that her vocal is off key (quite often). Her live performances are different than those recorded in a studio, she sings differently each time, and for she sings chaotically and experiments, fans overwhelmed with emotions may not notice that she sings out of tune again and doesn’t draw out top tones, or may think that was her intention. Maybe this is the reason why the off-key singing somehow does not get on one’s nerves, and what is more, it is charming in a way (and that’s another phenomenal thing about Lana 😉 ). Yes, even when Lana sings out of tune, forgets a part of lyrics, or her voice cracks, she gets (or sings) through unscathed and it is not unpleasant for listeners. If someone started to have doubts during her concert and thought that the singer is devoid of vocal talent, they could be surprised for Lana can sing a whole piece cleanly, drawing out top tones of which an opera singer would not be ashamed. Then, it’s hard to say anything unambiguous about her singing. Comparing her earlier and present live shows, one can say objectively that she is getting better and better, and she has developed a lot. Maybe the flaws result from stress, stage fright. I think that Lana can sing and her voice is truly exceptional, enigmatic, simply beautiful. The singer can paint a beautiful scenery, create the atmosphere. In that voice, you can feel emotion, sensitivity, something which the greatest divas lack so very often. She does not need sophisticated costumes, choreography, a team on the stage who will make a show. She is enough, standing in a modest, airy dress. This also makes her unique in an undeniable way.
Looking at Lana, one gets the impression that she is very human. She does not behave like a right diva, she approaches audience, talks to her fans, takes selfies with them. You don’t feel a star-to-fan distance and that is quite unusual. The setting was also full of atmosphere. A beautiful, red curtain with “Del Rey” written on it, large outdoor screens with black-and-white image. All that gave the impression that you moved to a theatre, a luxury jazz club where you had a meeting with the main star of that evening whose spirit is of 1950s. Everything was well thought out, consistent, Lana seemed to be a bit absent from this world. She was calm and smiling, girlish but flirtatious at the same time. She didn’t miss her greatest hits – Born to die, Video games, Blue jeans, High by the beach…. I was disappointed that she didn’t play Young and beautiful because it is one of the most beautiful pieces. The audience knew all the songs – You remember Carmen – she commented surprised right after she sang the song. Yes, the audience sang at the top of their voices, sometimes completely drowning the vocalist out. It was funny when everybody (including also men) started to sing Coca Cola with its famous line: „My pussy tastes like pepsi cola”. 😉 Unfortunately, Lana’s official performance lasted only one hour and fifteen minutes. She extended that time for a couple of minutes but the fans were still hungry for more. Undeniably, there is something magical in Lana’s shows, there is something magical about Lana herself. She is like a beautiful vision, a phenomenon which should last and last…In Body Electric she sings: „Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn is my mother”. Who knows maybe that is the secret of her success… 😉
Translation: Justyna Fras