Lorde returns to find 'Perfect Places' at New York festival


New York (AFP)

A newly grown-up Lorde sang of the despair that can creep up on sticky summer nights as she premiered a polished new pop single Friday at the Governors Ball festival.

Governors Ball, the first and longest-running festival in New York's increasingly busy summer music season, opened under visibly tighter security with police and counterterrorism units stationed every few yards (meters) at exits to the venue on Randall's Island off the city's East River.

The festival comes less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and the same day that one of Europe's largest hard rock festivals, Rock am Ring in Germany, was evacuated over a threat.

But once inside Governors Ball, tension was nowhere to be seen on a balmy day with the young crowd taking in four stages of music, mini-golf and firework shows to close off sets by Lorde and headliner Chance the Rapper.

Lorde took the stage in a white veil, which the 20-year-old New Zealander elegantly lifted to display engaging eye contact.

Lorde for the first time performed live "Perfect Places," the third single off her sophomore album "Melodrama," which comes out on June 16.

After finding fame while still a teenager with the minimalist viral hit "Royals," Lorde with her new music has turned to a more elaborate pop sound -- and more adult themes.

Like the album's first single, "Green Light," Lorde sings of going out on the town. On "Perfect Places," the setting is New York in the heat of the summer of 2016 -- "another graceless night," she sings of the drinking and casual romance.

"I hate the headlines and the weather / I'm 19 and I'm on fire," Lorde sings to dance-pop that belies a melancholic synthesized bass-line.

- Lorde taps juice bar worker -

As with her handful of other recent shows, Lorde turned the set into a tableau vivant with actors dining, dancing and fighting in a tinted-glass room elevated above the stage.

Among likely audience members -- Emely Paula Medina, newly employed at a New York juice bar. Lorde earlier in the week bought a blueberry smoothie from her and, in an exchange that went viral after Medina posted it online, Lorde invited her to the festival to celebrate her new job.

Lorde also brought out a guest to play guitar on "Perfect Places" -- Jack Antonoff, the alternative rocker who worked closely with Lorde on "Melodrama."

Antonoff earlier appeared with one of his own acts, Bleachers, which Friday released its second album, "Gone Now."

Shifting subtly from the grand, baroque sound of his other band, fun., Bleachers reached into 1980s pop-rock with powerful saxophone solos -- bringing a touch of Bruce Springsteen.

Bleachers went full-in on the 1980s synthpop as Antonoff led a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way."

- Rising fame for Chance -

Chance the Rapper's headlining status is a new sign of the rapid stardom of the 24-year-old Chicago native, who earlier this year won the Grammy for Best New Artist.

Chance, who has been unusually open in bringing Christian themes and Gospel music into his music, at one point gave the festival the atmosphere of a tent church revival as fans raised their palms with him.

Similarly breaking with hip-hop stock images, Chance took the stage by riding a bicycle and later joined in a pop duet with Francis and the Lights, who collaborated on Chance's breakthrough "Coloring Book" mixtape last year.

The three-day festival is heavy on hip-hop, with other star rappers Friday including ScHoolboy Q, who teased the audience to expect a new album "in the next few months."

One of the most rousing performances came from 68-year-old soul singer Charles Bradley, who has returned to touring after a cancer scare and thanked fans.

"I promise you one thing -- I'm back!" he said to thunderous applause.

Bradley, whose grippingly rich voice earned him a job as a James Brown impersonator before a career on his own, told the crowd that as a Christian he believed in coexistence.

"Don't let hate win! Let love win!" Bradley declared, ending his set by throwing a thick bouquet worth of red roses individually into the crowd.