Column: Lorde reunites with old friends, warmed by ‘Solar Power’ at sold-out Chicago Theatre performance

By Justice Lewis, Copy Editor

Lorde ascends the staircase of her sundial in a transparent sequined gown for a performance of “Sober” from her sophomore album “Melodrama.” Justice Lewis

The irony of a day filled with relentless thunderstorms and the Chicago “Hawk” circling mercilessly, ending with the first of two sold-out “Solar Power” performances at the Chicago Theatre, is uncanny.

Lorde, born Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, quickly rose to fame in 2013 when “Royals,” the lead single from her debut album “Pure Heroine,” gained a cult following from a generation navigating an unprecedented relationship with sadness and growing up. After releasing her critically acclaimed sophomore album “Melodrama,” Lorde’s agency as a voice of Gen Z was strengthened. 

Recently, footage resurfaced on TikTok of Lorde shushing her fans while performing an a cappella rendition of “Writer in the Dark” during her Melodrama tour. This, coupled with the mixed response to her Aug. 20 album release of “Solar Power” — a light-infused, mystical venture from her previously tormented sound — left fans unsure of what to expect from Lorde’s return to the stage.

The “Melodrama” to “Solar Power” pipeline is a fully realized transition from the angst-inducing entrance into early adulthood to the subdued happiness that accompanies maturing peacefully.

It is safe to say the worries of longtime fans of Lorde were quelled during her exhilarating performance April 22 at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.

The show opened with an electrifying performance by genre anomaly Remi Wolf, which was filled with high knees, twerking and an energy so infectious the crowd rose to its feet immediately — a true feat for any opener.

Wolf was so overcome with excitement that the singer nearly fell over several times as she performed songs such as “Disco Man,” “Sexy Villain,” and the TikTok viral hit “Photo ID.”

Later, as the theatre lights dimmed, screams arose from the enthusiastic crowd as the silhouette of Lorde appeared through the stage’s dominant set piece: a sun dial that strategically rotated throughout the show.

Lorde was not alone on stage, accompanied by her band, dressed in monochromatic beige and appearing routinely ghostlike in demeanor.

The set began with the mesmerizing interlude from “Solar Power,” “Leader of the New Regime.” The song paints a picture of a dystopian future where a former pop star packs only magazines and designer dresses as she flees a world in ruin.

Lorde then revealed herself, clad in a revealing take on a red oversized suit that had fans screaming in delight, as she transitioned into the fan favorite tracks “Homemade Dynamite” and “Buzzcut Season.”

Ella, as she introduced herself, expressed gratitude for the audience who, due to the “intimate” nature of The Chicago Theatre, had likely “bought their tickets five minutes after they were released.”

She uttered a phrase that could summarize her relationship with her fans singlehandedly: “It’s a Friday night, right? We’re gonna f— it up! But first, are you ready to cry?” 

Fans screamed in protest as Lorde sang, “And all of the music you loved at 16 you’ll grow out of,” during her performance of “Stoned at the Nail Salon.”

The fact that Lorde’s fans feel they have grown up with her was best exemplified by her performance of “Ribs.” Before the performance, she encouraged the crowd to “dance for their 15-year-old selves,” referring to the age at which she wrote the Generation Z anthem.

The relationship between Lorde and the crowd could only be described as astonishing, a sentiment the singer expressed through awe-induced remarks in her New Zealand accent as well as by debuting a performance of “Big Star,” a song she claimed she “never thought she would perform live.”

“Liability” was a contender for the most emotional performance of the night. The fan favorite track from “Melodrama” was prefaced by a speech where Lorde wanted to “catch up” with her fans, as she felt she had been in the presence of old friends. During this time, a fan (that may or may not have been me) called out, “We love you!” to which Lorde tenderly responded, “I love you, too.” 

The night culminated in an encore performance in which she performed the highly anticipated track “Royals,” as well as one and a half performances of “Team,” thanks to some technical difficulties Lorde was quick to remedy.

As the crowd slowly emptied the theatre, fans were seen gathering yellow confetti from the floor with tear-streaked faces, appearing forever changed by Lorde’s newfound light.