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Lana Del Rey – Manchester Apollo, Manchester 24/05/13

28 May 2013, 12:42 | Written by Emma Smith

From the moment Elizabeth Grant walks onstage at the Manchester Apollo, she has the audience in the clutches of her pristinely manicured hands. Inspiring an ear-splitting level of hysteria before she’s even appeared, the woman better known as Lana Del Rey sings the opening bars of ‘Cola’ with note perfect delivery, but you wouldn’t know it underneath the frenzied screams that fill the room for the duration.

Since 2012′s Born to Die, LDR has experienced a meteoric rise, effortlessly winning the hearts of fans who are already die-hard in their commitment to the modern age “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”. Tonight, she can do no wrong. Every song is met with rapture, every word echoed back to her in impassioned screams, and she comes to the front of the crowd at regular intervals, signing autographs and gathering offered roses and adoration in one easy sweep.

Though she aptly sings in ‘Ride’, “I’ve been traveling too long/I’ve been trying too hard/With one pretty song”, the world of ‘Video Games’ seems a world away now. She’s gained the kind of notoriety artists spend their lives striving fruitlessly for, fashioning herself as a creature of modern mythology, albeit one dogged by rumours and whispers of inauthenticity; though such negativity has no place in the sea of worshippers at this concert. She doesn’t need to do anything to impress but she shines onstage, her caramel voice untouchable in its purity, especially in her latest offering from The Great Gatsby soundtrack, ‘Young and Beautiful’.

As if addressing her flock each time she speaks – which isn’t very often in-keeping with her arm’s length approach – she appears steeled by their support and clearly has nothing to contend with except her own confidence. Through all the seductive pouting and trading on her sexuality with grazes of her thigh and wide-eyed Bambi glances, you can see she somehow hasn’t invested in her self belief yet. The detractors words may fall on deaf ears with her fans but there’s a chance that she might have listened.

The stage set up is a creation of art deco opulence, flanked by palm trees and stone lions and designed to neatly support the glamorous, nostalgic character that has been invented for Lana Del Rey. The videos behind her are like a show-reel of her persona; cinematic, troubled, dark and a perfect reflection of the ennui plagued Instagram generation Lana sings to. Everything is in the context of her damned child bride routine, betrayed only by her obvious delight at the crowd’s rapture and when she sings ‘National Anthem’s’ “Dark and lonely/I need somebody to hold me”, it makes us think there might be something in her professed need for acceptance after all.

It strikes us as a perfectly crafted package of a ready-made catastrophe, bolstered by tales of tragedy and Freudian hang-ups and legitimised by the alcohol dependency and trailer park living that punctuate her actual life story. What she wears and how she looks shouldn’t be important but it’s an obvious part of her appeal: Her tall, lithe body, glossy hair and pin-up looks add to her intrigue. Her talent is obvious but it’s her mystique that has won her a cult like following, reflected in her short time on stage and well placed belief in the ultimate fame maxim: Always leave them wanting more.

Critics might be desperate to “out” her as a regular woman with a keen grasp of marketing at every opportunity but surely all of the best pop stars in history are built on fictitious premises and otherworldly notions? If she could only believe in them herself, her superstar legend would be unmovable.

Photograph by Sebastien Dehesdin taken at Latitude 2012.

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