It’s nearly 13,000 miles, as the crow flies, from Auckland, New Zealand, to Tampa. So perhaps we should forgive young Ella Yelich-O’Connor, the pop phenomenon better known as Lorde, for not making her way here sooner.
Still, though: What took her so long?
Lorde’s concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena is my most anticipated pop concert of 2018, perhaps because it feels like such a long time coming. It’s been more than five years since she dropped Royals, the breakthrough single that won Song of the Year at the 2014 Grammys, making Lorde, then 17, that category’s youngest winner.
But to say she’s grown up before our eyes isn’t quite accurate, either. Thanks to her preternatural self-awareness, songwriting talent and idiosyncratic free-spiritedness, the tag "old soul" has been affixed to Lorde for as long as she’s been in the public consciousness. She was a teenager who wrote about teen life as if she’d already lived through adulthood, chronicling her worldview through a lens of nostalgia she could not possibly yet possess.
Her sophomore album Melodrama, released last summer, cemented it. The LP was a quasi-autobiographical, quasi-concept album about breaking up and growing up late in one’s teens, as you prepare to transition from adolescence to adulthood. Released at age 20 but written in her teens, it sits proudly among the best teen records of the past decade, including Taylor Swift’s Fearless and Adele’s 19. I’d argue it’s better than both.
On her huge North American tour, she is winning raves for her dance-like-no-one’s-watching attitude, covering Prince, Kanye West and the 1975 and winning over crowds with her unique sense of devil-may-care artistry. Reviewers have called her "simply marvelous," "vital and inspiring," "one of our boldest living pop stars."
No matter how far Lorde’s traveled or how long it’s taken her to get to Tampa in her 21 years, the show should be worth the wait. Let’s hope she won’t take as long for a return, because it seems like she’s only getting better.
Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.