I am not a Lana hater, I loved "Video Games" and I thought she was OK on SNL and I thought the album was really fabulous, But taking center stage on a flower strewn stage, to backing tapes, she performed a deadly ten song set culled from the album and without a surprise in sight, despite pretty good vocals, was skin crawlingly dire.
Lana can't dance, can't move, her coy smile and otherness might work on video but up close it is up to nothing whatsoever and there wasn't a second in the forty minute set that had the ring of passion and possibility. She entered to "Blue Jean", a song I love, and lead the audience in the first of several singalongs, swaying back and forth and using her arm for emphasis. Her sneaky smile was real enough and she seemed to feed off the audiences adoration, but she didn't know how to morph it into anything more than ego glorification. Scenes from her video plays on a screen behind her, and dressed in white, everything about Lana is etheral (except her voice)
I don't care that Lana is a rich girl, bought her success (if it was that easy, Paris Hilton would be a star), or has managed to befuddle people, including me at this point, whether she is for real or a fake, and whether it makes the slight bit of difference. Lana is about her voice and her songs and that's it: and both were fine last night and she was atrocious.
Lana has a wispy, bizarre presence, it is as if she is an artist in embryo or maybe more like she is a High School Senior who has crammed too hard for finals and is shocked she has passed. her voice is lovely and the songs are fabulous but there is nothing she can do to enhance the situation. while she saves us from rock and roll platitudes, she makes up for it with a contracted vision of herself: "You guys are so good", Lana claims after they cheer "Lolitta". whatever that means.
Perhaps she is a studio creation, perhaps she has no real talent: there was certainly no real talent on stage Sunday night. Her wandering, head thrown back, minimal emotionalism might not have been a sop but it wasn't a scene either, with nobody else on stage, no foil, nothing to give into, and only her dumbass tiara to concentrate upon, Lana seemed like a wannabe who by some miracle of song and time got a hit and now had to market it: the blue, moody Born to Die was all about sexuality as bad hair day, but it worked, it had a vision and remained consistently true to it and it had a state of mind, she seemed to being saying "if fucking is so much fun, why aren't I happy?".
That isn't a vaguely bad POV, and it sells to both sexes in its disenfranchised desire. If she had got on stage with a band and PERFORMED the damn songs, it would have been enough: but she didn't, she couldn't. Maybe there wasn't enough time. But singing to tapes at a wretchedly over crowded Irving Plaza (they closed the entire balcony for VIPS -the assholes), to an audience who can't see and when they can there is nothing worth watching, isn't gonna make you many friends round our way.
Did i mention she was wretched?