Lorde’s talents speak for themselves, but only her youth explains her performance on the Green Stage under a suitably dramatic parting of dusk clouds. Spinning and cantering in a long see-through lace skirt and white Adidases, the New Zealand singer-songwriter took full advantage of her burgeoning fame as the voice of female millennials. But she was also site-specific. After her first song she explained that she’d played the Red Marquee back in 2014, when she was still a teen, and couldn’t believe she’d been promoted to the main stage, and as the opener for Bjork! (Actually, she didn’t mention Bjork, but the significance is obvious.)
Prefacing each song with a small explanation of its meaning, Lorde seemed oblivious to the fact that a substantial portion of the people she was talking to had no idea what she was saying, and we’re not just talking about the Japanese listeners. We understood it more when she explained she was a witch and that playing in front of a mountain had special meaning. We weren’t entirely sure what she was talking about when she went on about having crushes as an even younger person. We mean, we understood, but didn’t really care. It is a youth thing, and if the young female Japanese members of the audience did care about such things, we’re not sure they absorbed her specific take on it.
But she kept saying how “honored” she was to be here, and that such a “loving” festival could only happen in Japan. Apparently, she had toured the grounds during the day, incognito in a surgical mask, and was impressed with everything. She gave back with a singularly heartfelt performance that was all about her. Her musicians practically vanished in the glow of her self-regard, and we’re fine with that. Lorde wouldn’t be the artist she is without that self-regard. But we have a feeling that ten years from now she’ll hit herself on the forehead when she remembers this concert and say, “What was I thinking?”