Lana Del Rey played the hits & covered Leonard Cohen @ T5 (night 2 pics, review)
After beginning her two-night stand at NYC's Terminal 5 on Monday (10/23), Lana Del Rey wrapped things up last night (10/24) with another sold-out, insanely packed show. These were her first NYC shows since Governors Ball 2015 and her first headlining club shows here since Irving Plaza in 2012, and you definitely got the sense that this felt like something of a return for Lana, who mentioned several times throughout the show that she was "back." She also has what is pretty much her first major tour ever coming up in 2018, so it especially feels like Lana is preparing to focus more on touring than she has in the past, and these small shows are sort of a warm-up for her. (Terminal 5 is WAY smaller than her next NYC-area show, which happens at Newark's Prudential Center on 1/19.)
In any case, Lana proved last night that she is fully ready to take on massive arena shows this winter. Stories of shaky live performances from her early days still follow her around, but Lana has been putting on impressive shows for a while now and at this point, she and her band are excellent performers. The stage is set up in the most Lana Del Rey way ever, with tall palm trees on either side of her and grainy clips of classic Americana playing on screen behind her. The band -- which includes pianist Byron Thomas, guitarist Blake Stranathan (who played on and co-wrote/produced parts of Ultraviolence), drummer Tom Marsh, who switches between a standard kit and electronic drum pads, and bassist Kevin McPherson, who switches between an electric bass guitar and a stand-up bass -- is made up of expert musicians, who all know how to add their own flavor to the show without ever stealing the spotlight from Lana. Lana's voice is in top form, her stage presence is simple but commanding, and she had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand the whole time. From the moment she walked on stage during opener "13 Beaches," the audience was singing every word so loudly that Lana couldn't help but look genuinely happy and grateful.
With a full-sounding band and two dancers that were sometimes backup vocalists, the one part I didn't love was when Lana would sing along to pre-recorded vocal harmonies. They didn't add much in a live show environment and I think Lana would've actually sounded better if she just sang without them. It was the least natural, human-sounding part, but Lana also made up for that with a few things that seemed genuinely off the cuff. She did her cover of Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2" (from his 1974 album New Skin for the Old Ceremony), which she said she had been rehearsing for the upcoming Leonard Cohen tribute in Montreal and that she wasn't even sure if she was going to play it in NYC. Right after that, she took a fan request for "Pretty When You Cry" and asked the band if they remembered how to play it. Her guitarist did, and the rest of the band finally joined in on the chorus (they stopped after the first chorus). Neither of those were played at night one, though the rest of the setlist was almost identical, heaviest on her new album Lust For Life and her breakthrough/major label debut Born To Die, with such fan favorites as "Blue Jeans," "Born to Die," "Lust for Life," "Music to Watch Boys To," "Love," "Video Games," "Summertime Sadness," and "Off to the Races." The thing that really resonated with me at this show more than ever before was how many "hits" she has. Not literally (in the US at least), as none of the songs she played last night ever actually cracked the Top 40 (only the remix version of "Summertime Sadness" did), but she just has so many songs that already feel like they're part of the DNA of modern music culture. And again, that entire packed crowd knew every single word.
She closed the show with "Off to the Races," which ended with her walking off stage before the song was over and letting her band jam and rock out a bit without her. It was a fun way to go out (and it's not every day a major label pop singer's drummer throws his sticks into the audience). The venue teased the crowd a bit by shining the stage lights on them, but like the previous night, no encore. It was classier that way anyway.
Lana Del Rey at Terminal 5 - 10/24/17 Setlist
Diet Mountain Dew
Shades of Cool
Chelsea Hotel #2 (Leonard Cohen cover)
Pretty When You Cry
Born To Die
Lust for Life
Music to Watch Boys To
Off to the Races
photos by Amanda Hatfield