Photo: Dave Hogan

Live Review

An icon in the truest sense: Lana Del Rey, Hyde Park, London

9th July 2023

What follows is a sweeping ninety-minute journey through the discography of a bonafide living legend.

The word ‘iconic’ is ubiquitous in stan culture nowadays, but as Lana Del Rey saunters on stage to bring 2023’s British Summer Time series to a luxe close, there seems no better descriptor. Six UK number one albums aside, Lana has long felt tangential to mainstream pop culture, a cult favourite happy enough revelling in an enigmatic world of her own creation. As her career-spanning sunset show unfolds, however, tonight she enters the big leagues once and for all, an icon in the truest sense.

Beforehand, buzzy newcomers and old favourites alike warm up the 50,000 strong masses. Aussies-turned-Londoners Gang Of Youths take an unlikely spot on the Great Oak stage in their stride, showing off their penchant for ebullient anthems as frontman David Le’aupepe runs literal rings round the early birds camped up front. On the Rainbow stage, The Last Dinner Party return to Hyde Park after appearing with none other than The Rolling Stones last year. Then, they were total unknowns. Now the secret’s out, and as the coolest gang in the country dish up their gem of a debut single ‘Nothing Matters’, the singalong is momentous. Father John Misty delivers more than a touch of class, joined by a grand band and visibly enthralled to play to such a huge audience. Cuts from ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ and last year’s ‘Chloë and the Next 20th Century’ are glorious accoutrements to the golden hour glow. And for any remaining Lana devotees not fussed about the songs, he peppers in some juicy lore: “it was nice of her to invite me to do this, after writing that ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ song about me,” he chuckles.

And then it’s time for America’s starlet to deliver the performance she so brutally couldn’t a fortnight ago at Worthy Farm. As the clock ticks past Lana’s advertised stage time there’s a worry a repeat of that Glasto fiasco might be on the cards, until the lilting piano of ‘A&W’’ drifts out into central London. Sighs of relief. Phones in the air.

What follows is a sweeping ninety-minute journey through the discography of a bonafide living legend. Tumblr-era classic ‘Young And Beautiful’ is the first of many spine-chilling moments in the impressively-crafted stage show, which partners Lana and her band’s evocative musicianship with crisp, vintage visuals as well as mesmerising routines from a troupe of dancers. When Lana sinks into 2017’s booming ballad ‘Cherry’, a gear switches, and the show really gets under way, the enormous screens behind her awash with fire and flora. The melodrama is infectious; in a green and lilac dress, black hair pinned in a Priscilla Presley-esque updo, Lana is the picture of Hollywood glamour when she perches in front of a mirror and gets her hair styled. Of course, there’s a frenzied applause when she pauses mid-song to hit the vape.

A montage of clips from the ‘Born To Die’ era are a reminder not only of how far the singer has come, but how skilful a curator of her own mythology Lana is. The hyperbole of ‘Blue Jeans’ was striking in 2012; it feels utterly timeless now when a park full of die-hards sing back to her “I will love you ‘til the end of time” and mean every word. The feeling is obviously mutual. Lana is a uniquely fan-servicing artist, pausing to sign autographs and take selfies with a lucky few at the barrier, changing lyrics to hint to her personal life and other in-jokes that only the most obsessive will get (but fortunately, they’re all here tonight).

Placed right at the end of the show, an extended ‘…Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd’ from this year’s LP makes for a beguiling crescendo, before ‘Video Games’ ties proceedings up where they first began over a decade ago. “It’s you, it’s all for you,” Hyde Park sings back to one of the most adored performing artists of our time. And look at that - she didn’t even get cut off.

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