Concert Review: Lana Del Rey Strikes Like Lightning at Fenway

By Tara Yazdan Panah

What Lana Del Rey lost in time at Fenway she tried to make up for with the slew of guests she brought on stage.

Lana Del Rey performing live at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles in 2019. Photo: Wiki Commons

I’m sitting in the damp inferno of the Fenway concourse surrounded by young women wearing wedding veils, heart-shaped sunglasses, Harley Davidson biker jackets, and hair bows. Crouched by a concession stand drinking an overpriced 6-ounce canned pinot grigio, the condensation is pooling in one of my hands while I frantically check my phone for weather updates in the other. I catch glimpses of the field between the moving crowds; there’s a heavy downpour with flashes of lightning. It’s 9:37 p.m., and Lana Del Rey’s set should have started over two hours ago.

For Lana Del Rey, the journey toward the heights of recognition and stardom had been a long and winding one. 12 years and nine studio albums after making her debut in the public eye, Del Rey performed her first ever stadium show at Boston’s own Fenway Park on Thursday night, albeit accompanied by delayed gratification. Around 8:45 p.m., almost two hours after waiting in our seats for the show to begin, it was announced that the impending lightning necessitated an immediate evacuation from the open-air areas. We were promptly escorted into the covered concourse area, losing hope that the concert would proceed as each minute groaned by.

Weather inconveniences are a tricky thing. They are the few inconveniences in life when anger feels futile, for there is no party to direct one’s anger toward. Except God, perhaps.

At exactly 10 p.m., a booming voice suddenly sounded over the intercom. “You may now return to your seats. The show will begin in 30 minutes.” The stadium erupted in cheers; throngs of fans crowded the gates to enter the field once more. I thought to myself, surely there are at least a couple hundred people here who have had their faith in the divine renewed.

With the delayed start came the compromise of a shorter show, the 11:30 p.m. noise curfew hanging over everyone’s heads (most of all, Del Rey’s, who was interrupted several times during the show to get a time check). She began the show with a short, unreleased prelude that featured siren-like vocals and haunting lyrics, such as “Past, present future. Jesus saves and I just worship. A thousand ways.” Following this brief opening number, Del Rey thanked her audience for waiting for her, and promised to cruise through the show “as magically as we can” —  given the venue’s time restrictions.

The result: what was intended to be a two-hour show turned into an hour. Despite the time squeeze, Del Rey performed a range of songs from her oeuvre. She picked some femme fatale tracks, “Ride” and “West Coast,” from her early days (albums Born To Die and Ultraviolence), as well as a selection of newer mature, introspective songs like “The Grants” and “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard.”  It was disappointing that songs from Norman F—cking Rockwell and Blue Banisters didn’t make the cut. A rendition of her melancholic song “Thunder” was a missed opportunity given the weather conditions.

As a performer, Del Rey does not project the high-energy, confident stage presence of many of her pop peers. Del Rey is not a show woman but a poet. Still, these days a lone bard must engage a live audience of thousands — watching from jumbo screens — somehow. Del Rey met the challenge by impressively playing to her own strengths while getting some technical help from others. The concert incorporated high quality stage theatrics in the service of helping each song tell its story. For example, the stage lit up in fiery colors during her performance of “Cherry,” with Del Rey singing center stage alongside graceful contemporary dancers in flowing red dresses. Drawing on short dramatic interludes between songs and a company of dancers, Del Rey successfully entertained her audience as she kept the spotlight on her emotive voice and sultry expressions. Even her performance of “Pretty When You Cry,” in which she lies down on the stage horizontally — her dancers moving gently in formation around her  — for almost the entirety of the song, tapped into the song’s desperate, pining attitude.

What Del Rey lost in time she tried to make up for with the slew of guests she brought on stage. Mason Ramsey, popularly known as 2018’s “Walmart Yodeling Boy,” sang a gorgeous duet cover of “Blue Over You.” During the number, Del Rey asked the crowd to light up the stadium with iPhone flashlights. Up-and-coming artist Stephen Sanchez also joined Del Rey on stage, the two singing his hit song “Until I Found You.” Immediately after, Quavo, a friend of Del Rey’s, entered the stage after a grand introduction. The two debuted an unreleased R&B track that transported listeners back to Del Rey’s Lust for Life days, when she collaborated with rappers like A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti.

Del Rey ended the concert with the melodic, evocative “Video Games.” Once the clock hit 11:30 p.m. there was a collective sense that the show would be winding down; attendees sang her iconic song at the top of their lungs. Before she ducked backstage at the end of the song, you couldn’t miss the look of pain on Del Rey’s face. She knew she hadn’t given the audience the show they had come for. In what appeared to be a spontaneous decision, Del Rey walked down the stage steps and approached the barricades, where she hugged and posed for pictures with fans who had been waiting in the 100-degree, sauna-like pit all day. You couldn’t help but hear the mutters of fans leaving the stadium: grumbles about the disruptions, yearnings for more songs, along with resigned acceptance that some things, like the state of the sky, are bigger than any of us.

Tara Yazdan Panah is a Cambridge-based second year master’s candidate at Harvard Divinity School. She is a freelance cultural criticism writer and has written for university publications as well as Teen Vogue. She can be reached at

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts