Four years after her last D.C. performance, Lorde returned to The Anthem’s stage on August 29 on tour for her album “Solar Power.” The 25-year-old artist was originally scheduled to play at the venue in April, but rescheduled the stop after contracting laryngitis. In the waning days of summer, thousands of fans crowded into the concert hall Monday night to finally see the acclaimed pop artist perform.
Inspired by her retreat from the public eye and a “life-changing” trip to Antarctica, Lorde’s “Solar Power” combines a thoughtful reflection on coming of age in the spotlight, a stinging satire of celebrity worship and wellness culture and a touching commentary on the relationship between humans and nature. Although stylistically divergent from her previous work — with more mellow tracks and acoustic instrumentals — “Solar Power” showcases a sage and introspective side of the artist, holding true to her signature passion and honesty.
For her third tour, Lorde made a conscious choice to book small, intimate venues. Prioritizing a tight-knit community of fans over profit, she utilized the smaller venues to make the show feel more personal.
“I would much rather have a room with 5,000 people in it who know every word to every song and are passionate about me as an institution — than have 18,000 people who heard two songs on the radio and liked them,” Lorde told Insider in 2021.
Lorde rose to fame at the age of 16 after the release of her debut album “Pure Heroine,” and has been a prominent name in music ever since. Her discography is comprised of three albums, each representing a different stage of her life. Her first album, “Pure Heroine,” captures the painful experience of growing out of youth, while her sophomore album, “Melodrama,” explores feeling out of place in adulthood. In 2021, Lorde released her third album, “Solar Power,” which illustrates the value of maturity and finding peace within oneself, focusing on themes surrounding nature and spirituality.
Dressed in a pastel blue suit, Lorde opened her nearly two-hour show with the “Pure Heroine” hit “Buzzcut Season,” a nod to her musical inception. She belted the melancholic track from atop a rotating staircase that imitated a sundial, allowing fans at the back of the venue to see her.
The tour’s staging reflected the minimalistic and genuine nature of “Solar Power.” The layout centered round a projected sun that glowed against the backdrop, and a steep sundial-themed staircase leading to nirvana. The sun’s warm hue illuminated the venue, gently changing colors as the setlist progressed. It remained prominent throughout the show, allowing audience members to bask in the melodious music. The band performed with a subtle stage presence that ensured Lorde took the spotlight. While there wasn’t much spectacle to the concert, the subdued nature of the staging contributed to a sense of intimacy that made the show feel personal and meaningful.
Lorde sang the “Solar Power” single “Stoned at the Nail Salon” with a sentimental self-awareness, contemplating themes of growth and maturity.
“And all the times they will change, it’ll all come around,” Lorde sang.
The line perfectly frames the concert’s retrospective aura; Lorde used the song to muse on her journey to adulthood, allowing fans to recognize how her art has come full circle.
During her more upbeat songs, Lorde projected pure euphoria as she danced along to her own voice, beaming out at the crowd. Addressing the audience between tracks, she even confessed to taking an illegal swim in the contaminated water of the Potomac River, and subsequently encouraged the crowd to sing along with her — a far cry from the viral clips of the artist shushing the audience during her “Melodrama” tour.
“I would ask if you’re in a dancing mood tonight, but I think I know the answer,” Lorde said to her fans, eliciting a chorus of shrieks. “Are you guys going to rage with me?”
As Lorde performed the album’s title track, “Solar Power,” confetti rained down on 6,000 attendees as they rollicked, submitting themselves to the jubilee of the number. While she changed outfits throughout the night, a ballooning, yellow dress proved fitting for this performance. Framed against the blazing orange sun, the low-key production perfectly encapsulated the energy of the album.
The artist also paid tribute to her earlier works, singing what were once vulnerable confessions of insecurity with a newfound sense of maturity and gratitude for her recent personal growth. From performing the heartbreaking ballad “Liability” to the wistful hit “Ribs,” Lorde revisited the emotional turmoil of her youth with a freshly optimistic perspective, accepting past hardship as a stepping stone to a brighter future. Her passionate display made clear that although the songs remain close to both her heart and those of many listeners, she has finally accepted her old work as a relic of a past era.
The 25-year-old’s vocals served as further evidence of her development as an artist. Performing songs recorded in her adolescence, she displayed a newfound confidence with her more mature, powerful adult voice.
Fans in all stages of life came together, finding their own place in the coming of age narrative Lorde’s work presents. Whether reflecting on teenage agony or ushering in an age of personal enlightenment, all fans could find solace in her insightful lyrics, and in the concert’s collective atmosphere.
Performing “Oceanic Feeling,” the final track of “Solar Power,” Lorde delivered a message to those who resonate with her younger self:
“I know you’re scared, so was I, but all will be revealed in time.”