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Lana Del Rey Showcases a Timeless Rhapsody of Tragic Romance

Lana+Del+Rey+performing+at+the+Santa+Barbara+Bowl+on+September+8th+2017.+Drummer+Tom+Marsh+plays+behind+her+as+she+performs+%E2%80%9CRide%2C%E2%80%9D+the+first+single+from+her+2012+EP%2C+%22Paradise.%22
Lana Del Rey performing at the Santa Barbara Bowl on September 8th 2017. Drummer Tom Marsh plays behind her as she performs “Ride,” the first single from her 2012 EP,

Lana Del Rey performing at the Santa Barbara Bowl on September 8th 2017. Drummer Tom Marsh plays behind her as she performs “Ride,” the first single from her 2012 EP, "Paradise."

Photo credit: Nicky Monreal

Photo credit: Nicky Monreal

Lana Del Rey performing at the Santa Barbara Bowl on September 8th 2017. Drummer Tom Marsh plays behind her as she performs “Ride,” the first single from her 2012 EP, "Paradise."

By Jaden Gill, Editor-in-Chief

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It is not often that an artist’s compliments to a crowd seem genuine. Hearing “this is one of my favorite cities” or “thank you all for coming out tonight” at every show can appear redundant, unnatural, and staged, but not for 32-year-old Lana Del Rey, whose gratitude can reach the nosebleeds.

Not a single one of The Santa Barbara Bowl’s 4,500+ seats were empty on the night of September 8th after an astonishing pre-sale sell out. The crowd was completely diverse and yet carried the same general energy, encompassing Del Rey’s “you’re young, you’re wild, you’re free” attitude.

Zella Day took the stage around 7 pm, greeting Del Rey’s fans as they streamed in, with her raw, vocally simple melodies.

The neon lights, imitating a gas station’s “open” sign, read “Del Rey” as they hung above Day, boosting anticipation for the main act.

When the lights dimmed and the cinematic singer/songwriter drifted onto the stage, all she had to do was whisper “Hello” to receive a roaring response from the thousands of Del Rey enthusiasts who simply adore her melancholy ora.

As the guitar riff to the 2014 hit “Cruel World” reverberated, the spectators were transported from the 75 degrees Santa Barbara amphitheater to the chillingly sentimental landscape of a 1950’s Americana film.

Hints of Amy Winehouse and Marilyn Monroe presented themselves as Del Rey fluttered her false lashes and ran her fingers through her volumized half-up-do. Her baby blue dress and lacy cream cardigan contrasted her two backup dancers dressed in only black, while enhancing her mid-1900’s pop culture references.

The crowd’s enthusiasm skyrocketed during songs from her most recent album release, Lust for Life, as well as Paradise hits such as “Blue Jeans” and “Ride.” A distinct sense of enthusiasm swept over the pit when Del Rey would point the microphone towards the pit, encouraging a duet between her and the swarm of her accessorized devotees.

The stylish performance arts only escalated during “Music to Watch Boys to,” when bass player, Kevin McPherson, pulled out an upright bass from the side stage, contributing to the evocative stage personas of the band and singer.

Even when those with designated seats would stand, there were still few who were dancing. Some sways were visible here and there, but that did not stop the music from being felt, even if the listeners weren’t expressing it by jumping up and down with their arms in the air.

The love she expressed for her fans did not seem to be a selfish facade created to maintain popularity, but rather a heartfelt appreciation to be able to perform.

After explaining that Santa Barbara was one of her favorite places in the world, as many singers do when playing The Bowl, she shared an anecdote about how she came to the very same concert venue on her birthday to see Bob Dylan. She only hoped one day that she would be able to sing on the same stage.

Perhaps the most unconventionally captivating part of the night happened when she stepped down to ground level to sign vinyls, kiss fans on the cheek, and take photos with the emotional few who had waited hours for their deserved spot at the barricade.

This intermission lasted around 10 minutes before the singer pranced back on stage gleaming, seeming to have experienced a spike in energy after interacting with the crowd of teenagers in pink hats and flower crowns.

“Had to go and say ‘hi’ to some of my friends,” she laughed. “Hope you guys don’t mind.”

After her performance of “Ultraviolence,” Del Rey took a more serious tone with a vague political statement introducing one of the last editions to her newest album— a song called “Change.”

“I felt like I needed to say one more thing,” Del Rey murmured. “The country maybe looked like it was taking a turn, not for the better.”

The ballad acted as a moment of silence for the state of America as the LED screens featured symbolic explosions behind her and the lyrics “change is a powerful thing, people are powerful beings” reflected on the faces of passionate audience members.

After an a capella version of “Love” and, of course, the acclaimed “Summertime Sadness,” Del Rey began her finale song of the night, an instrumentally escalated version of “Off to the Races.”

After Del Rey exited the stage holding a bouquet of red roses that a fan had handed her, guitarist, Blake Stranathan and keyboardist, Bryon Thomas, lead a melody that only vaguely resembled the original track. With Tom Marsh on drums alongside McPherson, the quartet seemed to extemporize as golden lights flashed for an ultimate display of technique and skill.

Rhapsody is modernly used to describe works of color and spontaneity, which is not quite existent in Del Rey’s ensemble of nostalgic tonality that so many young adults relate to. However, the word is derived from a Greek synonym for a reciter of epic poetry.

It is hard to characterize the vulnerability of Del Rey’s  lyrics into anything except poetry, and in one word, her converging baroque pop instrumentation could only be described as “epic.”

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Lana Del Rey Showcases a Timeless Rhapsody of Tragic Romance