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The Melodrama World Tour was the second concert tour by New Zealand singer Lorde, undertaken in support of her second studio album, Melodrama (2017). Lorde headlined several music festivals before commencing the tour, and went on to communicate frequently with stage designer Es Devlin to plan the show's design. European shows began in September 2017, followed by dates in Oceania and a solo trek through North America. Dates in other European cities soon followed along with various festival performances.

Melodrama World Tour
Tour by Lorde
A photograph of Lorde in red and blue hues showing the singer in a black bikini as she floats in a pool dramatically. The name of the artist and tour appear in large text at the bottom.
Associated albumMelodrama
Start date26 September 2017 (2017-09-26)
End date17 November 2018 (2018-11-17)
Legs4
No. of shows
  • 20 in Europe
  • 13 in Oceania
  • 32 in North America
  • 2 in Asia
  • 3 in South America
  • 70 in total
Lorde concert chronology

The show consisted of three segments and two costume changes. The first featured Lorde in a dark outfit, while during the second segment she wore a lighter costume. The set list consisted of songs from her debut and second studio albums. She also performed one of several cover versions of songs at each show and premiered an unreleased song titled "Precious Metals". An alternate set list with several video interludes was performed during the first European leg of her tour. The show received critical acclaim, with critics complimenting her stage design and her presence.

Background and developmentEdit

Lorde announced dates for the Europe and Oceania legs of her tour via Twitter on 8 June 2017.[1] Her tweet was accompanied by the release of a new song titled "Sober" (2017) and the announcement of the opening act for her tour, Khalid.[2] The following week, a North American leg was announced.[3] Lorde revealed her opening acts would be Mitski, Tove Styrke and Run the Jewels on 4 October 2017.[4] Shortly after the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, Lorde tweeted, "If you're debating whether or not I can murder a stage ... come see it for [yourself]" after it was reported that she was the only Album of the Year nominee not to be offered a solo performance at the ceremony.[5]

Prior to starting her tour, Lorde made several festival appearances as a headliner to promote her album Melodrama.[6] She appeared at Glastonbury in the United Kingdom, where her set was widely praised by critics.[7][8] A month later, she performed at Osheaga in Montreal, with Tove Lo serving as a special guest, performing a duet of "Homemade Dynamite" with Lorde.[9] She also headlined Lollapalooza in Chicago,[10] however, her set was cut short due to inclement weather.[11] Lorde made other appearances including at Roskilde in Denmark,[12] Fuji Rock in Japan,[13] Bumbershoot in Seattle and Life is Beautiful in Nevada.[14][15]

EquipmentEdit

 
A transparent container (pictured) was employed for the duration of the tour. When raised and unoccupied it tilted up to 30 degrees — 10 degrees when occupied.[16]

After performing "Green Light" and "Liability" on the 9 March 2017 episode of Saturday Night Live, Lorde met with stage designer Es Devlin to outline a set design for her tour. The pair communicated frequently during the recording sessions for Melodrama.[17] For her Coachella set they collaborated with Tait Towers, a live event engineering firm, to create a 20 ft (6 m)-long "see-through container";[16] after a successful show, she opted to employ the container for her tour. Several modifications were made to it to suit the size of each dancer who would occupy the vessel. Four hoists, four hatch doors and a rope ladder were added although its size was not altered. The container could support seven performers and tilt at a 10 degree angle when occupied; unoccupied, it could tilt at a 30 degree angle.[16] Richard Young, the tour's production director, said the purpose of the container was to mirror the album's storyline, saying:

We reveal the tank a third of the way in; it goes up and down and dancers get into it. At the end, the dancers ride the tank into the grid, and the party floats away. [Lorde] walks away, leaving the party going on behind her.[18]

Shannon Nickerson, Tait Towers' project manager, considered two factors for the container's design: its ability to be disassembled and shipped with "minimal square footage" and to provide movement around the stage. The container measured 21 ft (6 m) wide, 7 ft (2 m) deep, and 8 ft (2 m) high with a maximum trim height of 48 ft (15 m).[18] It was sealed underneath a slip stage, allowing the container to ascend from downstage when the slip opens. Lorde collaborated with lighting designer Martin Phillips on stage lighting. They created an outline of the container with 16 Martin by Harman VDO Sceptrons.[18] The interior featured eight Solaris Flare Q+ units while its exterior was illuminated with four Robe Robin BMFL Blades. Philips and Lorde also worked on the tour's color palette. Due to her synesthesia, she provided him with "broad color palettes" for each song to mirror her feelings associated with them.[18]

Sound technologyEdit

In 2017, Lorde's production team collaborated with Firehouse Productions and L-Acoustics on a technical partnership. According to Scott Sugden, head of applications for L-Acoustics, Lorde utilized the "frontal" system, where the public address system is located on the stage forefront.[19] Her set also used "five arrays directly above the stage", four extension arrays, nine speakers as well as 16 KS-28 subwoofers.[19] Upstaging, Inc. distributed lighting and video supplies and operated as a rigging vendor for the tour. Chris Russo, director of touring for Firehouse, commented that rigging the stage was a challenge, saying:

The Lorde tour was more of everything. Usually, you hang a left/right P.A. plus the sides, you get your angles and lasers sighted-in on four hangs, and you're done. With 360, you add two more. With this show, those guys are sighting-in 11 hangs, and that's not even including the (flown) subs — and that's at least two-and-a-half times as many motors as in a typical rock show.[19]

Philip Harvey, a mixing engineer, utilized the Solid State Logic L500 Plus keypad that detects each instrument and displays it as small circle on the "L-ISA Controller screen" with a map locating each speaker. Harvey operated at a range of 102-107db. The L-ISA Processor stabilized sound variances; Sugden compared its sound to watching a jazz performer in a cabaret show.[19] For Lorde's vocal layering and texture, Harvey used two reverberation systems, a MultiRack: the Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates and IR-Live Convolution Reverb, with the latter using the "Sydney Opera House impulse response" to create a deeper and augmented effect.[20]

Concert synopsisEdit

 
During the performance of "The Louvre", Lorde was carried horizontally by four of her tour dancers. Critics compared it to a "sacrifice ritual".[21]

The show was divided into three segments and an encore. The main show began with a dark stage for "Sober". Six dancers were onstage in different poses as lights faded in and out; they moved downstage as Lorde began to sing. She was concealed from the audience until the second verse when a pair of lights revealed her. After concluding "Homemade Dynamite", she greeted the crowd with, "Hello and welcome to the Melodrama World Tour!".[22] During "Tennis Court", one dancer stood on top of a transparent container box, facing the audience with a spotlight shining on her. The next song, "Magnets", was performed with three dancers behind Lorde; three spotlights illuminated the stage in pink and purple. A video played in the background showing four women in a car sharing a flask and smoking a joint as they apply their makeup. The song ended with Lorde performing a synchronized dance routine with her dancers.

Two female dancers performed during "Buzzcut Season". They faced each other, miming their actions as the song played. The container ascended midway to show two more dancers inside it performing homogeneous dance routines. Lorde opened the left door of the container and walked inside as the lights shifted from yellow to pink and left momentarily. She introduced "400 Lux" saying, "This is for the kids from the suburbs."[21] A video played in the background showing a woman resting her head outside a car window as it drives through city streets at night. A dancer performed inside the container.

During "Ribs", the six dancers returned to perform while a blue and green video played. Lorde stepped inside the container as an interlude played towards the end of "Ribs". A dim blue spotlight shined on her and then faded as she changed into a brighter colored outfit. During "The Louvre", two dancers performed an interpretative dance to the song while the remaining dancers stood inside the container. A video played showing monarch butterflies pollinating flowers, a woman graciously falling into a pool and two lovers kissing. During the song's chorus, Lorde performed with her dancers; as the outro played, each dancer lifted Lorde horizontally as she concluded the song. Each dancer faced one another (some inside and outside the container) as they imitated each other's movements during "Hard Feelings". One dancer remained inside the container as it ascended.

 
During the encore, Lorde uses a MPD24 MIDI controller (pictured) to play "Loveless" and "Precious Metals".

The dancer from the previous song remained in the contaner during "Yellow Flicker Beat". A video of Lorde spray-painting a car in an abandoned parking lot played in the background; the container tilted sideways several times during the performance. She then spoke to the crowd about the previous year of her life; her dancers placed fluorescent light tubes around the stage before she sang "Writer in the Dark". She then sang a cover of Frank Ocean's "Solo" in an identical setting. She introduced "Liability" saying, "This is another song about being alone".[23] During "Sober II (Melodrama)", the container ascended and tilted sideways to show all the dancers reenacting a fight in slow motion lit with red and violet hues. As the outro played, Lorde left the stage to change her outfit. Quotes from American journalist Joan Didion's 1968 essay collection book Slouching Towards Bethlehem were shown on a screen during an interlude.[24]

Lorde was shown in silhouette form inside the container with a male dancer as the song "Supercut" played. The container was illuminated in purple and pink hues. She lay down in the opposite direction of the dancer during the outro. The box had white flashing lights during "Royals". Lorde performed "Perfect Places" by herself as a video of a burning house played in the background. She introduced "Green Light" by saying, "This song is important. This song is for the petty person in you. It's for the crazy person in you. It's for the lover in you. It's for the fucking hater in you." Two green and blue spotlights shone on her during the start of the performance while green lights strobed before the chorus. Rope ladders descended from the container for each dancer to use. The song slowed before the final chorus began as Lorde told the crowd, "I need you to dance. I need you to sing. I need you to give me everything. Can you do that?".[22] Star-shaped confetti shot out into the audience. For the encore, Lorde used a drum pad (MPD24 MIDI controller) for "Loveless";[25] she also performed an unreleased song titled "Precious Metals".[26] During the last song "Team", Lorde stepped outside the stage to sing an extended verse of the song while greeting fans. She concluded her performance by taking a bow and leaving the stage.

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

Overall, the Melodrama World Tour received critical acclaim. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times praised her stage presence, saying, "She smiles and sighs as easily as she loses herself in reverie when the song demands it". Caramanica also noted how the "most striking moments were the most bare".[27] Echoing similar thoughts, Jim Harrington of The Mercury News lauded Lorde for her personality saying she "dominated our attention and fascination during each and every moment of the concert".[28] Los Angeles Times' writer Mikael Wood complimented Lorde for being able to bring a "sense of intimacy" and put it across in such an "expansive space".[29] The Independent's Daniel Wright gave the London show a four out of five star rating, complimenting her self-aware attitude but felt her cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" (1981) was "out of place".[30]

Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune called her show "stark, personal, a little weird — and more engaging and relatable because of it".[31] Uproxx writer Philip Cosores praised Lorde's versatility as a performer on stage and called her music and spirit "vital",[32] while Preston Jones of the Dallas Observer praised her for delivering a "polished, confident and emotionally charged set".[33] Exclaim! writer Anna Elger awarded the Vancouver show an eight out of ten, calling it an "ambitious and confidently executed production that showed the New Zealand pop star embracing performing on the biggest stages of her career thus far".[34] Ed Masley of The Arizona Republic described the Glendale show as an "artful blend of modern dance, performance art and classical ballet".[35] The Seattle Times writer Michael Rietmulder said that while the start of the show was "lukewarm", it progressed as the set continued.[36] Stereogum's Chris DeVille was critical of her "basic arena banter" but said that "she's her own kind of pop star, one with a different skill set and point of view than we’ve come to expect from people with this job".[37]