California’s Lana Del Rey Rocks New Jersey

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Patrick Chambers, Staff Writer

On September 21, my older sister and I were fortunate enough to attend the premiere of the latest tour gifted to us Lana Del Rey fans, the NFR Tour, to promote her new album.

 

In order to capture the summery vibe of her latest album, NFR, (the name has to be the initials as printing the actual name would not go over well with the team at Gaggle), Lana hosted her sole East Coast set at the Jones Beach Theater on Long Island. Although the location was extremely inconvenient for anyone who doesn’t reside in Nassau County, the site was perfect. Tucked among the dunes and built atop part of a bay, the venue was fantastic. The entire theme was boardwalk inspired, with food carts, soft lighting, and over-priced cokes. The icing on the beach-themed cake were twin sailboats moored on either side of the stage, emblematic of the laid back SoCal vibes Lana is known for. 

 

Thanks to an older sister who was willing to wait on Lana’s website for an hour to get the tickets we so desired, we scored general admission tickets for the floor, and therefore found ourselves mere feet from the stage after we navigated to the pit. This concert did not include an opener, and Lana took to the stage as the sunset on a gorgeous September evening. 

 

She opened with tracks off of her new album, with a particular live standout being “Bartender.” As the set progressed, she tore into tracks from her earlier albums, specifically the 2012 classic that launched her to stardom, Born to Die. Despite “Summertime Sadness” being the biggest hit from that album, her performance of that track left something to be desired. However, she quickly made up for it with a rendition of “Off to the Races” that I can attest to as the best song I have seen performed live. Together with her bass player, Lana delivered a version that was pure rock ‘n roll, loud and in your face; the song was a clear departure from what many expect from an artist known for her more low fi songs. My biggest regret of September was not filming that song to put it in context. 

 

As the set continued, she included several songs from 2014’s Ultraviolence. The two standouts from that album were “Shades of Cool” which was brought alive again by the fantastic backing band, and “Pretty when you Cry”, which ended as it should, with Lana on the ground in tears, mascara running and all. Lana also included songs from some of her more recent albums, including “White Mustang” from 2017’s Lust for Life.

 

A highlight of the night was when Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon appeared and joined Lana in a duet of “Tomorrow Never Came.” Seeing the son of a Beatle perform was an amazing experience, one that caught the audience by surprise. Lana’s biggest hit of 2019, the summer smash “Doin’ Time” was also a highlight, and hearing it live cemented itself as one of my favorite new releases of this year. The final song, “Venice B*tch,” rocked the venue with an extended guitar solo to close out the set. 

 

Having, by her own admission, “ripped through the set,” all was said and done around 10:15. The 12,000 people drifted out to the parking lot where we confronted the scariest part of the night: no buses back to the train and Uber surge pricing. Despite the nightmare of returning to the city, Lana performed exactly as I imagined. Next time she’s in town, you best believe I’ll be back in the front row, eager to be wowed once more.