Pop star Lana Del Rey, resplendent in a short, white embroidered dress and sparkly gold stilettos, suddenly plopped herself on the stage at Target Center on Friday night.
Lying on her back and ignoring the audience, she crooned “Pretty When You Cry.” “I’ll wait for you, babe, that’s all I do, babe,” she intoned in her passionless voice. “Don’t come through, babe, you never do. Because I’m pretty when I cry.”
That moment was about as animated as Del Rey got during her 90-minute concert — her first ever arena show.
A beloved cult figure since her bestselling 2012 album “Born to Die,” the Los Angeles chanteuse was making her overdue Twin Cities debut Friday. She said she chose Minneapolis as the first stop on her L.A. To the Moon Tour because half her best friends live here and her brother Charlie calls Minneapolis home, too. Who knew?
That was about as personal as Del Rey got. Her bit is to perform highly emotional songs without any emotion. Call it affect or artifice or performance art. Whatever it is, some 9,000 fans responded enthusiastically.
Del Rey, 32, didn’t exactly mount a production to catch your eyes or grab your ears. The stage was sort of a lagoon set — faux rocks, palm trees and water projected on the stage with two dancers/backup singers. It was fun when they went back-and-forth on giant rope swings that descended from the rafters.
Del Rey later sat on one of the swings during part of her hit “Video Games,” but she never did really swing. Remember, she doesn’t get animated. She occasionally strolled around the stage, sitting on a pool lounge chair to perform a couple of tunes. She even smiled a time or two. And she ventured into the pit in front of the stage twice to greet fans and take selfies.
Del Rey has an alluring voice that was more convincing live than on four bestselling records. She showed more vocal range live than on disc, where she seems confined to mostly her contralto range. However, while her mesmerizing misery may appeal to some on record, it was monotonously melancholy in concert.
Her music lacks dynamics in the same way she lacks stage presence. Some artists, including early Bon Iver and Iceland’s Sigur Ros, can pull off similarly quiet, almost glacial music because they vary the textures and tempos occasionally. Moreover, they manifest more personality.
Del Rey has been polarizing since her dreadful deer-in-the-headlights performance on “Saturday Night Live” in 2012. There were all kinds of questions about this newcomer.
What was up with the vintage Hollywood glam persona? Was her back story fake news? (She’s a Fordham grad, and daughter of two Lake Placid, N.Y., ad executives who know her as Lizzy Grant.) Why was her dreamy pop so divisive?
Del Rey has had her moments in the spotlight with “Video Games” and “Summertime Sadness.” Each of her last four albums has landed at No. 1 or No. 2 in Billboard.
Songs from last year’s “Lust for Life” and “Born to Die” filled up most of Friday’s set. They mostly deal with loss, loneliness, sadness and boys who have done her wrong. She did call a couple of audibles, doing “Ultraviolence” (“Do you think if we do it it’ll kill the mood?” she asked the fans) and “Serial Killer” (she’s gonna kill him “ ‘Cause I love you just a little too much”).
At times, Del Rey seems too much. But mostly on Friday she was just too one-dimensional in too many ways.