Lana Del Rey at BST Hyde Park 2023: A divaesque disappointment

The final gig of the BST Hyde Park festival was met with favourable weather, setting the stage for what should have been an unforgettable experience. As I attended the event with Lilly, a 12-year-old devoted Lana Del Rey fan, I couldn’t help but ponder the appeal of the 38-year-old singer’s music for such a young audience. Lana’s melancholic songs touch on themes of death, anxiety, fear, and sex, making her music a departure from the typical joyful tunes expected at a summer festival. However, despite the anticipation and excitement, Lana’s performance failed to live up to expectations, leaving much to be desired.

Lana del Rey gig collage

An Inconvenient Diva

Lana Del Rey’s divaesque demeanour was immediately apparent as she arrived on stage almost 20 minutes late, resulting in a shortened set-list. Bruce Springsteen and Guns ‘n’ Roses played three uninterrupted hours of amazing music without gimmicks and with no electronics or pre-recorded tunes. The delay was unacceptable, considering the exorbitant ticket prices that fans had paid, many exceeding £120. The crowd’s excitement quickly turned to impatience as they awaited Lana’s arrival, and unfortunately, this foreshadowed the disappointments to come.

Technical Difficulties and Fan Noise

One of the primary issues during the performance was the lack of audio balance. The mic seemed to be set too low, causing Lana’s voice to be drowned out by the overwhelming noise of young girls screaming and screeching throughout the songs. This made it difficult to fully appreciate Lana’s vocals and the intricacies of her music. Additionally, the incessant recording on smartphones hindered the visibility of the stage, as countless screens obstructed the view for those behind. These distractions detracted from the overall musical and visual experience of the gig.

Lana del Rey gig collage

Lacklustre Musical and Visual Standards

Compared to other performances at BST Hyde Park 2023, Lana Del Rey’s set failed to meet the expected standards both musically and visually. As a fan of various music genres, I found it unusually difficult to connect with her performance. Lana’s decision to prioritise taking selfies and signing autographs with fans during the set further disrupted the flow of the performance and undermined the professionalism of the event. While the privileged few in the Gold circle benefited from these moments, the majority of attendees were left waiting for Lana’s return to the stage. The night before Bruce Springsteen walked amongst fans while singing and playing the guitar. A true professional.

Missed Opportunities

Throughout the performance, Lana indulged in moments that could have been used to showcase more songs or engage with the audience. However, she squandered these opportunities, opting for makeup and hair changes on stage, lying on the ground to the point of near-invisibility, and frequently sitting. These actions reeked of laziness and exhibited a lack of respect for her fans and the professionalism expected from an artist of her calibre. London, the city that played a significant role in shaping Lana’s career, deserved better.

The Set-list and Highlights

Despite the overall gig disappointment, I actually like Lana del Rey’s songs especially in the stripped down versions which I found on YouTube. The set-list included several shortened versions of her popular tracks, such as “A&W,” “The Grants,” “Ride,” “Born to Die,” and “Norman Fucking Rockwell.” Notably, the extended intros of “Cherry,” “Blue Jeans,” “Ultraviolence,” and “White Mustang” attempted to add depth to the performance. However, the remix version of “Summertime Sadness” and the inclusion of “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.” brought some variation to the set-list. The concert concluded with Lana’s breakout hit, “Video Games,” leaving a glimmer of nostalgia for her fans.

Most importantly, for me personally, Lilly had a smashing time and she said that this was her highlight for the summer. There’s nothing more rewarding than this feedback. After all, this is music to my ears and to the wonderful team at BST Hyde Park who once again organised an impeccable festival.

Thank you and see you next year!

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