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“My pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola” are the first words coming out of Lana Del Rey’s mouth as she opens her second and final sold out show at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. The young modern diva brought us into her intimate world with “The Paradise Tour” and from the beginning to end a classy and utterly sensual atmosphere lingered over the venue.
She may come from America and “fall asleep in the American flag” but there is nothing typical about her phenomenal worldwide success. Instead of embodying the American dream, she plays with it like a grown up Lolita and her motto “Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn’s my mother, Jesus is my bestest friend” is like a tattoo on her skin.
She appears on stage wearing a short white dress coupled with a big beauty queen style hairdo along Giorgio Moroder’s notes from Scarface, the perfect intro to her dangerous music, innocent like a noughties Britney, but doomed like Janis Joplin, someone whose soul has spent too much time on the dark side. Words like “you fit me better than my favourite sweater” could not sound any more appealing coming from such a jazzy controalto voice. The noir poetry of “Body Electric”, the cinematic “Blue Jeans” and “Born To Die” make up a tryptic that immediately put a spell on the crowd as the art deco set that includes lion statues and displays images glamorously mounted into antique golden frames.
Just like Marilyn, Lana changed her name and whole persona, from Elizabeth Woolridge Grant to Lana Del Rey, yet the transformation doesn’t hide her nature. She reaches out to the people in the front row three times, taking pictures and collecting roses like a Hollywood star. Despite prior criticism her voice is flawless, especially during the cover of “Blue Velvet” and The Great Gatsby’s anthem “Young And Beautiful”, where her voice takes its purest form thanks to the orchestral arrangement. A hint of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” makes us ride even deeper through Lana’s own California fame-liquor-sex-love road trip even if we have never been there before. We feel like we know “Carmen” who is struggling with alcohol and we get familiar with the breeze shaking the L.A palms as a young girl loses her innocence in the City of Angels.
“I never have much to say on stage, but you are a memorable crowd”, and we believe her, there is nothing else to say when the video for “Ride” introduces us to the encore. The song itself smells like desert and a thousand cigarettes and Lana delivers a heartfelt and almost patriotic performance, culminating in one of her most personal tracks “Gods And Monsters” that made up for the absence of “Million Dollar Man” and “Dark Paradise”. It sounds like a moment of redemption before the dramatic “Summertime Sadness” and the sweetest of all, “Video Games”. The finale is bright and the crowd’s favourite “National Anthem” leaves us wanting more of this talent you might associate with the most isolated of bars in Downtown LA.
Believe her or not, the one undeniable truth underneath the drama, the character and the make up is that Lana is the last true romantic in the pop industry, someone who faces love with an open heart. She explores the dark side of love in a way that Amy Winehouse used to, and, as she says, ‘life imitates art’ we’re looking forward to many more intense and emotional rides.