David Letterman pushed his couch and desk aside last night so the teen pop phenom Lorde could perform a six-song set for his audience at New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater. The half-hour mini-concert, which is part of the show’s Live on Letterman web series, complemented her ebullient performance of “Teams” for Late Show proper (streaming below). While that song was delivered formally (and topped off with a dainty kiss on Lorde’s hand courtesy of Letterman), the longer set was a much looser affair.
Throughout the concert, which drew from the recent Pure Heroine album and Love Club EP, she laughed with the audience and blissed out as tracked backing vocals played out some of her choruses. After opening with Love Club’s “Bravado,” the sparkly-dressed, big-haired 17-year-old remarked, “This is so crazy.” Before Heroine’s “Ribs,” she joked about how the show’s producers had checked with her if it was OK to put lights on the audience so she could see them. “I was like, ‘Yep,'” she said matter-of-factly. “I love seeing you guys.” Amid laughs, she explained, “I wrote ‘Ribs’ about growing up and getting older . . . and about this big party I had when my parents went away.” She laughed as a keyboard introduced the song.
Her band consisted of a drummer and a keyboard player; between the two of them, they managed to provide enough of the alternately sparse and lush textures that define Pure Heroine. The self-proclaimed Queen Bee seemed to get lost in the snaps and backing tracks of “Royals,” waving her hand to the beat and writhing with each downbeat. It was the high point in the set, which also included “Tennis Court,” “Buzzcut Season” and “White Teeth Teens.” Overall, the show depicted a lighter side to Lorde, who came off pretty dark in her recent cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” for the Hunger Games: Chasing Fire soundtrack, which is now streaming in full.