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Lana Del Rey at BST Hyde Park: enchanting, delightfully strange and worshipped like a queen

Lana Del Rey continues to cement herself as one of the most mystifying stars of her generation with a magical performance at British Summer Time



Taking to the stage late at Glastonbury last month because of ‘hair styling complication’s – and subsequently getting her set cut short – was not an unusual occurrence for Lana Del Rey. In fact, the Manhattan-born singer-songwriter’s habit of unpunctuality has become something of a reluctant quirk for fans; inconvenient, but not unexpected. Judging by her audience here on this overcast yet humid London afternoon, her diva-like tendencies are merely confirmation that she can, and will, do whatever she wants – and her crowd will love her for it. 

Lana Del Rey is, after all, a star in every sense of the word. The energy at Hyde Park today feels less like a conventional performance with a distinct separation between fan and artist, and more of an organised and incredibly personal gathering of worship. From the earliest of hours in the day, flocks of obsessed fans, kitted out in flowing dresses with cigarettes stylishly hanging from mouths, make their descent on the field, hoping to get as close to their subject of intense infatuation as the awkward stage barriers will permit. 

As Del Rey strolls casually on stage to a deafening wall of screams – only fifteen minutes late – swooping into the rap-like section of the sampled 1960 track Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop by Little Anthony and the Imperials from her song A&W – it immediately feels as though you’re in the presence of something wholly special. Hardcore Lana fan or not, there’s no mistaking her enchanting star quality: ethereal yet melancholic, as she casts knowing smiles out into her sea of admirers, seemingly still humbled (if not surprised) by their hugely enthusiastic reactions. The only signifier that briefly breaks the spell is the fact that at the start, she seems intensely nervous, with her voice rasping through the first few handful of songs, before quietly commenting on the size of the crowd before her.

Following that slightly awkward beginning, Lana sits down on a flower-littered table, while her hair stylist plays with her brown locks – now a customary part of her set. In between moments of singing, she coolly starts vaping, with fans literally cheering on her every inhale of smoke. It all feels immensely personal, as though we’ve been invited into Lana’s world, watching her in her natural territory, singing to herself at home. There’s more of this closeness later on, with the singer coming down to meet her fans for what seems like a lengthy period, speaking to a handful of attendees in an incredibly personal way, touching their faces and giving out autographs. 

What’s more interesting is that Lana barely has to do anything to secure these flashes of fervent applause from the crowd. As she swings from a trapeze while performing Video Games, singing out a slightly more prolonged note, she lifts her skirt playfully while perched on a piano, drawing enraptured cheers from her worshippers. For the majority of the set, her approach is entirely nonchalant; she’s barely exerting any energy at all, yet the whole thing is absorbing.

Towards the end of the night, Lana breaks her silence on the Glastonbury fiasco. When introducing Diet Mountain Dew, she quips: “I think this is where I got cut off last time. Sorry about that”, later adding: “It’s worth it if the power is cut”.

There’s even time for one last moment of strangeness. Towards the final few notes of closer Video Games, her walk-on stage music suddenly floods the sound system, almost as if she is yet again being cut off. It’s an abrupt end, but it all adds to the mystery of such an enigmatic artist – one who can seemingly do absolutely anything she wants, and be absolutely adored for it.