Lorde more than a one-hit wonder

Review: Lorde tops Saturday’s Not So Silent Night
By Jim Harrington
Contra Costa Times
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Dec. 08–Lorde reigned supreme at Saturday’s Not So Silent Night concert.
The New Zealand singer-songwriter, who recently learned that she’d been nominated for four Grammy Awards, delivered nothing less than a breathtaking performance during the second night of Bay Area alternative-rock radio station Live 105’s annual holiday shindig at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
She absolutely stole the show from all the acts listed higher up on the bill. Yes, that includes Arcade Fire, arguably the genre’s most popular act.
Overall, it was a solid, sometimes spectacular weekend of music — a sold-out, two-day affair that Live 105 can certainly feel proud about. Beyond Lorde, the highlights were Queens of the Stone Age and Vampire Weekend, both of which performed on Friday night.
Saturday’s show, however, seemed to be the one that everyone was taking about — and greatly anticipating — going into the weekend. That’s because the lineup, which included Lorde, Arcade Fire, Alt-J and Phoenix, looked like some dream Coachella bill.
Out of the bunch, it was Lorde who really managed to make the night memorable.
The arena was nearly pitch-black in the moments leading up to Lorde’s set, so dark, in fact, that crowd members were literally (and accidentally) bumping into each other. The star eventually cut through the darkness and took her place in front of a drummer and keyboardist at center stage. From there, she began to weave her magic, conjuring up one hypnotic number from the debut “Pure Heroine” after another.
Of course, “Royals” — the ubiquitous single that is Grammy nominated for record, song and best solo performance of the year — was a huge hit with the crowd. Yet, listening to the set, it became clear that Lorde has so much more to offer. Every song she played on this night was definite keeper.
It was interesting to compare this evening’s set to Lorde’s headlining show in late September at the Fillmore in San Francisco, which was also a triumphant outing. She exuded more star power this time around, eclipsing that of the other more experienced acts on the bill, even though she’s new to playing large arenas.
“This is the biggest venue I’ve ever played,” Lorde commented to the crowd. “Just over six months ago, I was playing for 400, 300 people.”
Lorde better get used to playing the mammoth halls, because this set provided ample evidence that she has the talent and the material to make it even bigger in the industry.
Alt-J followed Lorde and delivered a fine set of dreamy indie-rock, which seemed to channel both Sigur Ros and the Dave Matthews Band. The group isn’t quite as good in concert as it is in the studio. Those who’ve listened to the English band’s excellent 2012 debut, “An Awesome Wave,” know that isn’t as big as a slam as it might initially sound.
Next up was Phoenix, the French rock act that shares much in common with the group fun. It put on a lively, dance-friendly set that was as easily enjoyed as it was later forgotten.
Arcade Fire closed the show, pedaling its pedestrian fourth album, “Reflektor,” which comes across like a collection of songs the Talking Heads once considered recording and then thought better of it. I’ve seen this Canadian troupe many times over the years — beginning with a club date at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall in 2005 — and have always been impressed with the enthusiasm and energy found in its live shows.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.
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