"The feeling of getting older scares me" Lorde confesses. She is staring out into the crowd, bathed in darkness, near the end of her hour long set at a sold-out Brixton Academy. She looks overwhelmed yet, in her own way, completely in command. "But paradoxically," she says, "Every night I get to share my life with people like you."

Lorde's life and work is full of paradoxes. She's young but has an old soul. Her songs are restrained and minimal yet they leave a powerful, indelible mark. She's a mainstream pop star with an appeal to the outsider. Her lyrics are confessional, insightful yet she has an enigmatic presence. The most interesting paradox is the theme, which runs throughout her debut album Pure Heroine, that whilst she fears growing old, it's that very process, a sacrifice of sorts, that is necessary to achieve her dreams. In a live setting, with 5000 people eagerly hanging on every word, this sentiment seems all the more pertinent.

When she arrives on stage there is little fanfare. No spectacular light show or tension building music. The set begins with a roaring version of 'Glory and Gore'. She shifts and contorts in the storm of flashing monochrome lighting, which casts an eerie shadow dancing against black drapes which are concealing the stage. At times it looks like she is having an intense fight with her own feet but it's dramatic and exciting to watch, which is evident when the crowd hysterically scream every time she approaches near.

A state of regality is assumed (she is a Lorde, after all) when the drapes are drawn to reveal a huge chandelier and 3 giant golden frames which illuminate in the background for 'Biting Down'. Her voice winces and trembles, adding little nuances which hint that she is yet to reach her full vocal potential. Similarly during 'Still Sane' she oscillates between delicate and defiant. The droplets of sparsely arranged synths pull the audience into its otherworldly charm. Doing away with the superfluous extras is where Lorde has found her niche in the pop world. The simplicity of the staging helps focus in on these tender moments that permeate through Pure Heroine.

Whilst there aren't any faults in the performance, the set is slightly stunted by the similarities in the songs. Much of it sounds alike and/or too similar to the record. A certain flare or experimentation with the musical arrangements could have created more notable peaks. However a beef-souped up cover of Son Lux's 'Easy' and an cataclysmic extended outro during 'Ribs' go someway to make up for this shortfall. A confetti cannon bursts ticket paper into the air (with a classical-greek style portrait of herself printed on one side - a classy touch). For the princess of understated pop, this is as overt as she's likely to get. It is left to a rousing rendition of 'Royals' to inspire a mass singalong from the audience whilst the final song and album-closer 'A World Alone' solidifies what is an altogether impressive show.

It is a powerful thing to watch an artist as young and precocious as Lorde. She is so confident, elegant and self-assured on stage, it belies her 17 years on this earth. The fear of growing up could, in some ways, also be defined as accepting responsibility to reach ones own potential. Being a kid can only sustain a person for so long, after all. Lorde grapples with this conflict between fear and ambition with poise and precision but, in a way, she has already overcome it. Whilst most of us were chugging down cider in a corner of some dodgy park until we passed out, Lorde was sitting in her room writing songs for a generation. "All work and no play, keeps me up a level" she sings on 'Still Sane'. Standing on the edge of the stage, her hands pressed against her mouth, taking in the adoration from her fans, one imagines Lorde is on a level few of us will ever see. Long may she reign.

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