The best pout in the music industry rolled into Sydney in the form of Lana Del Rey. If Kanye West happens to be reading this article he may want to stop because his ego is about to be challenged.

The self-described ‘gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ has been the most talked about, intriguing and confusing starlet of 2012. An internet sensation with over 32 millions views on YouTube, it seemed the young artist had bitten off more than she could chew a few months ago.

Lana Del Rey aka Elizabeth Grant, virtually went into hiding after her horrendous live television performance on Saturday Night Live and the mounting bad press over her past. However, this didn’t seem to stop anyone from purchasing a ticket to her maiden (and sold out) Australian tour.

Local lad Oliver Tank, who has been compared to Bon Iver and James Blake, supported Del Rey, though he sounds more like Beach House than the ‘Skinny Love’ singer. It was enough to warrant interest in seeing Tank play again, although one got the feeling it was lost on the majority of a very restless crowd waiting for their pop idol.

Lana Del Rey walks out in a gorgeous white 1960s dress and immediately there’s high pitch squealing from the front rows. She begins with ‘Blue Jeans’, accompanied by a pianist, guitarist and a string section. There’s no doubting she can sing and the majority of the crowd lend their vocal chords to provide backing for the entire night.

The projected black and white videos continually roll and are recycled during the set, many would be familiar to those (many) who have viewed Del Rey’s music videos – a collage of montages cut and pasted together as if filmed at home by a Super 8 camera. Some of these moving images are of the Kennedy family on a beach side holiday,  others, of a young Elvis Presley, old images of Hollywood and biblical words.

For all the cooing and posing, the performance feels somewhat staged. Del Rey continuously begins from the back of the stage and saunters towards her fans before swaying her hips and searching for looks of adoration. At one point she begins the jazzed up ‘Million Dollar Man’ behind the piano and stage foliage for  an impromptu game of hide and seek.

In the glum ‘Summertime Sadness’ there’s no doubting Del Rey’s beauty with her fluttering lashes, as she sings “I just wanted you to know/ that baby, you’re the best” it’s hard not to fall for this enigmatic sex siren.

Judging by the other set lists on this tour – this is a well-oiled machine and the show leaves little room for flexibility. As evidenced by Del Rey’s irritated stage manager who is visible for the whole night on the side of stage. On two occasions he goes to Del Rey in the pit to tell her to move on from the sea of outstretched hands.

There seems to be some magnetic pull for Del Rey towards the front of the crowd, which alienates the rest of the watching audience. “I had to get down and see my people,” she mentions at one point.

A further surprise for the evening was Del Rey’s cover of Nirvana classic ‘Heart Shaped Box’. It takes a huge amount of courage to cover what is arguably one of the greatest and most revered bands of all time; and she pulls it off with ease to stunning effect. It keeps the majority of the crowd amazed in silence.

Her biggest single ‘Video Games’ earns rapturous applause with the raspy vocals –it’s a defining moment in her short set where Del Rey brings to light such tragedy and sorrow.  It’s sad to see the show end with a poor version of ‘National Anthem’.

There is no encore tonight but Lana Del Rey definitely answered some of her critics that choose to loath her.  At times the performance is labored and whether we are seeing a genuine artist is questionable. Compelling viewing nevertheless. Only time will tell if Miss Del Rey remains as timeless as the contemporaries she uses in her videos.

– Jeffers Chew

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