Lorde — who, at 20 years old, just put out her second critically acclaimed record — thinks she’s a troll. “I spent my day in my room doing a really cool puzzle,” the New Zealand native said, smiling, at a Friday night show in New York City celebrating Melodrama‘s release. She acknowledged how grateful she is for the positive attention the album’s been getting, concluding that earlier in the day she thought, “I’m a troll, I don’t deserve this.”
She’s wrong on both counts: She, wearing a sparkling top with her wild hair flying, is most definitely not a troll — and she most definitely deserves the praise for Melodrama, which EW’s Nolan Feeney described as “a riveting, more emotional journey of self-discovery” than 2013’s Pure Heroine in his grade-A review. “Here, Lorde makes getting drunk and hooking up sound downright spiritual as she examines her fumbles through adulthood with enviable grace, lacerating honesty, and even humor,” he wrote.
That was all true of her Friday concert, too, an event for SiriusXM subscribers that broadcast live on the service’s Alt Nation channel. The “Royals” singer played both hits — she closed out her set with the rousing “Green Light” — and newer cuts, like Melodrama standout “Supercut,” a song that perfectly exemplifies co-producer Jack Antonoff’s self-described specialty: music you can cry and dance to.
Although the focus was on keeping the energy up — “Team” featured flashing lights and a layered musical climax that made the Bowery Ballroom briefly feel like a club at its euphoric peak — Lorde did take a couple moments to slow things down, including during her performance of Melodrama’s “Liability.” Prior to singing the piano ballad, she recalled being “kind of repelled” by it at first. “I was like, this isn’t my vibe,” she said. “But I needed to write this song for a while. … We wrote this song, which was so close to my heart I felt like it was stolen from me.”
“Being a human being is kind of scary, and it’s still scary to me now,” she went on. “We wrote this song and it had been really playing in my mind for a long time because I was in this kind of emo phase where I thought everyone was going to leave me.” During recording, Antonoff pointed out how great it would be to hear audience members sing along to the track at shows. After playing it a few times live, Lorde can confirm he was right. “It feels like the most wonderful suit of armor there is,” she said, encouraging everyone to help her out.
The show felt incredibly intimate thanks to its relatively small audience, especially compared to her recent sets at crowded festivals like Governors Ball and Bonnaroo — but Lorde took that intimacy to another level for the encore, where she belted Melodrama‘s “Writer in the Dark” as she paced the stage without a microphone. Lorde is undeniably a star, and part of that is because of her ability to both be a star — famous and talented and successful — while also remaining a vulnerable 20-something, powerfully expressing her devastating, relatable heartbreak with nothing more than her voice and her words. The venue instantly felt like a friend’s living room as soon as she returned to the stage, with her unaccompanied vocals captivating the suddenly quiet room. Everyone remained almost eerily silent throughout those gorgeous final few minutes, proving no matter how wonderful a suit of armor might be, Lorde is just fine without it.