NASHVILLE — “This is crazy for me — I haven’t been just somewhere else doing this,” Lorde told the audience at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House midway through opening night of her 2022 Solar Power tour.
She wasn’t kidding: Though she’s had one-off appearances here and there, the New Zealand singer-songwriter’s last full concert took place in Mexico City in 2018, when she was touring behind her second album, Melodrama. Her sun-kissed 2021 album Solar Power was released into an entirely different world, one that was reeling from pandemic isolation and a little rusty on having communal music experiences. Thankfully, it’s an album that was designed to soothe and make that reentry process easy.
Split across a series of three acts, the Solar Power tour leaned heavily on material from its namesake album, but threw in a heavy dose of Melodrama and a sprinkling of Pure Heroine for a show that could be intimate one moment, ecstatic the next. Hard to say if it was inspired by Lorde’s long gap between tours, but the passage of time even worked its way into Lorde’s set design — the focal point of her stage was a massive fulcrum that rotated a full 360 degrees at its base and doubled as both a sundial and a stairway ascending into the heavens. A giant orb was suspended above it on a backdrop, accented by dramatic lighting that made it glow in multiple colors.
In her opening act, Lorde began “Leader of a New Regime” behind the large circular base of the stairway, only her silhouette visible to the audience. When she emerged to sing “Homemade Dynamite,” she was in an oversized pastel-green pantsuit, dancing down a set of risers from the back as the audience shouted along. Only a small group of accompanists, all in matching yellow suits, were onstage, and they stood nearly motionless — as much set decoration as backing band.
Lorde returned to the stage for the second act in a backless yellow dress and sang “The Path,” kicking off a run of songs that exemplified the blissed-out vibe of Solar Power more than any other part of the concert. Other band members joined her on the stage, tapping out relaxed drum grooves and watery guitar sounds that called to mind Sixties psychedelic pop and sunset-to-sunrise beach parties, with a brief piano-only section that included “Dominoes” and “Loveless.”
Even the electronic pulse of the Pure Heroine cut “Ribs” seemed at home in this section of the show, though Lorde’s way of hugging her sides at the end of the song indicated that heavy emotions were welcome to come out in this golden environment.
“I’ve got a lot of shit I’m gonna be pulling to the surface and releasing on this tour,” she said. “If you have any of those big, similar emotions want to let free in this very safe space, you are invited to do so.”
Those big emotions from the crowd were expressed most loudly on the selections from Melodrama. With her third and final set, Lorde — this time in a leotard with a glimmering, exaggerated bustle — ramped up the tempo with a few of her older tunes. The darker undertone of Solar Power‘s “Mood Ring” gave way to “Sober” and “Supercut,” during which Lorde danced in joyous, spontaneous fashion while the audience sang along, then applauded when she collapsed in dramatic fashion on the stage.
Lorde joked about having written the sun-kissed “Solar Power” while “sitting on a rock in the middle of the ocean,” then walked around the edge of her rotating stage as if crashing through the hours to find the next sunrise. The set closed with the pulse-quickening rush of “Green Light,” followed by the “gentle comedown,” in Lorde’s words, of “Oceanic Feeling.” For her encore, she reprised breakout hit “Royals” and added in the Solar Power cut “Hold No Grudge.”
The Grand Ole Opry House tends to go underused outside of its main duties hosting the long-running Opry show, so it was a surprising, unlikely spot for Lorde to kick off this iteration of her tour (on Grammy Awards night, no less). No matter — the young pop star made up for lost time, ensuring everyone in the crowd felt welcome to get what they needed out of the experience, and they didn’t let her down.
“Oh my goodness me, Nashville,” Lorde told the crowd earlier in the show. “Thank you for being such a kind, sensitive little group of fuckin’ ragers.”
Solar Power Tour Set List:
“Leader of a New Regime”
“Stoned at the Nail Salon”
“Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All)”
“Hold No Grudge”