BEING THERE: Lana Del Rey @ The Skyline Stage


Controversial ruby-tressed ingénue Lana Del Rey captivated a sold-out crowd at the Skyline Stage at the Mann Music center last night with a mesmerizing 14-song set of her darkly shimmering retro-pop. Del Rey is about to drop her much anticipated album Ultraviolence, which was produced by Black Keys singer Dan Auerbach and cut live in the studio with a Del Rey fronting a seven piece band. Last night, with her big fluttering eye lashes, bee-stung lips, and prevailing air of smoldering carnality, Del Rey looked like a 1940’s pin-up dream girl that just stepped off the side of B-52. Looks can be deceiving though, and Del Rey worked hard to earn her self-styled rep as the “gangster Nancy Sinatra”  starting with the first words she uttered on stage. She kicked off with “Cola” (with its cringe-worthy opening line – “my pussy tastes like Coca-Cola” ) and immediately had the crowd eating from the palm of her hand and singing along. What followed was an hour of her odes to sex, death and bling with Del Rey’s powerful sex-and-cigarette-drenched vocals ranging from babydoll soft to soaring diva while obliterating any lingering concerns about her being able to deliver the goods live. Highlights included the stuttering, aqueous new single “West Coast” with breathy panting vocals from Del Rey and a meditative and emotional “Young and Beautiful” during which Del Ray stared out into the starless night asking “Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful.” (Doubtful, truth be told.) The best song of the night was a fire-and-brimstone performance of “Gods and Monsters” with Del Rey wailing about drunken, velveteen fuckings at the (Jim) Morrison Hotel, while her band raged behind her and images of a city burning played out on the video screen behind them. The night ended with Del Rey’s ode to the moneyed pleasures of being a material girl in a material world, “National Anthem,” as 4th of July fireworks and heady party scenes flickered across the video screen. Halfway through the song Del Ray abandoned the stage and went down to the railing while her band blared out the space-rock coda to the song. She spent the rest of the song exchanging hugs and kisses with the fans in the front row, grabbing many of their cell phones to take selfies with them. As the jam drew to a close Del Rey headed back to the stage, accepting a crown of white flowers handed to her by a fan along the way. Del Rey put the crown on and turned around to face the crowd and give a regal goodbye wave to her subjects before exiting stage left into the warm, narcotic, American night. – PETE TROSHAK