Tradition, tradition, my sweet Lorde—a Pappy and Harriet’s tradition continued with a surprise show after midnight on Friday/Saturday at the storied adobe bar in Pioneertown.
Lorde, aka Ella Yelich-O’Connor, continued the tradition of secret, last-minute shows at Pappy’s, disclosing her first full-length performance since December 2014 with a simple tweet earlier in the day. She followed in the footsteps of Bon Iver playing a secret pre-Coachella warm-up under the nom de guerre of Mouthoil in 2013; the Pixies celebrating a return to Coachella in 2014; and Sir Paul McCartney’s Oldchella mini-gig last October that created the biggest traffic jam ever in Pioneertown.
Lorde’s shocker of a show had me scrambling, but I was able to make it for the hour-long warm-up gig, during which she introduced three new songs and played plenty of material from 2013’s Pure Heroine. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to bring in a pro camera, so I was only able to get some snapshots of the venue; the photo above is from her 2014 Coachella performance.
The show was slated to start at midnight, and security had all ticketholders line up in the outdoor stage area, since Wanda Jackson performed a 9 p.m. show inside. There was more security than usual—and lots of people running around with a sense of urgency, with VIPs, mostly family, entering first.
I waited in line with a group of fans from Long Beach who were able to obtain six of the $20 tickets before they sold out. The door’s opening led to a quick security check and a mad scramble toward the stage. I spied Nancy Hunt, owner of the boutique Brat, in Santa Monica, who seems to be at every sold-out show at Pappy’s, but for the most part, the crowd was new to Pappy’s, based on the informal survey I took while in line.
The show started about 12:20 a.m. with an intro tease of new single “Green Light,” as many fans did their best Statute of Liberty impressions with cell phones rising high in the sky for most of the show. Lorde was very comfortable and chatty, saying, “This is what I like about a small place,” before she was interrupted by fans stating where they drove from: “Oh, you came from L.A.? You from Nashville, today?” It felt like she was playing for close friends—something you rarely see from a pop star with fans only feet and inches away, and something that won’t happen at Coachella on Sunday.
Lorde teed up the crowd: “So I wanna try something that no one knows about yet. I wanna play you something from the new record. It’s kind of like one of my favorite things I think I’ve done. It’s a two-part song, but they’re very different. They’re what the core of this album is about.” A fan finished her sentence by yelling, “Sober!” which is a song from her upcoming second album, Melodrama. She replied: “Fuck, you guessed it! I really need you with me for this,” and a request was made to turn down the blue, cavern-like lighting. Lorde drove spectators wild as she sang, “My hips have missed your hips … what will we do when we’re sober?” partially hanging from the stage right “punk pole” used by many to just hold on during more raucous shows.
Lorde expressed how happy she was to play a live show again: “Thank you so much, wow, cool, I miss you so much.” Then came more news: “This song is a little ghost. I felt like a little ghost when I wrote this one. I walked until I could not walk anymore and I called a cab. … When I was writing, I felt like was in high school. Oh, I see my sister in standing in the back. It’s called ‘Liability.’”
Lucky ticket-holders were treated to an “old” Lorde hit, “Royals,” which had a few Pappy’s staffers behind the bar singing along with the chorus.
Lorde shouted out to the crowd, “Thank you very much. How you doing out there? What do you want to know?” A fan asked, “What have you been doing?” She responded: “I bought a house in New Zealand, and I don’t garden yet, but I’ve been going to the beach.”
She hinted that the end of the night was near: “It’s a great one tonight. I want to get pretty down for the last two songs. I want you to dance like you’re alone in your bedroom, and you don’t give a fuck. Are you in?” Lorde then ended with “Team” and “Green Light,” the latter off her highly anticipated sophomore release.
As she knelt on a corner sub-woofer, Lorde said her goodbye: “Thank you so much Pappy and Harriet’s.”