Friday 30 August 2013

Lana Del Rey @ Glasgow 16.5.2013

Before Paradise Tour, who would have thought that Lana Del Rey can perform? Certainly not me. Her Saturday Night Live was a fiasco and the young american didn't show much talent in singing in other live recordings either.

But hello Glasgow and hello Lana! On May 16th I was among other fans queuing to her concert. The concert had first been announced to venue at 02 Academy but had been changed to the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center, SECC, only a week due to the magic day. A move that got someone like pissed off, having especially wanted to see Lana on a small stage.

From the first notes of Lana's singing, coming from behind the massive opera-like scenes, most of the crowd was sold. My heart, too, jumped. I was actually seeing Lana! The feeling really kicked in with the first lines of Cola. Provocative, but cool. Something only Lana could pull off.

Lana was in a moved state that evening. It had been one year since her last concert in Glasgow, the home city of her boyfriend. "I spent so many, many days here with the last two years visiting my sexy singer from my favorite band", Lana told in one of her speeches. Performing in Glasgow was like a homecoming and you could feel it.

It was certainly the place to see Lana.

Without Me was brought to life with such glamour it hit me hard. If a song that has never been any special becomes it because of its live version, the singer's done a seriously good job. And Lana did. She put her best into the concert and was far from an overproduced plastic icon. Lana was accused for having been a camera posing diva at her concert in Helsinki, a concert I didn't go to myself but having seen her in Glasgow I can't but wonder. The woman interacting with her audience and singing with a fan's Video Games flower headband look-a-like on right in front of my own eyes, regardless if the headband matched or not, was certainly not camera posing.

Video footage was played on the background of the songs. Two majestic tigers were reflected to the both sides of the stage during Born To Die. The visual side was really been put effort to. Lana, herself, wore a bohemian white lace dress with a brown belt and a golden cross hanging on her neck. The setlist included all the hit songs like Video Games, Blue Jeans, Born To Die, Summertime Sadness and as a surprise to me - Carmen, a song Lana introduced as a song she likes to sing. Phrases like "I feel like..." and "Let's do..." made the setlist feel on the moment and not written on stone.

I'm glad I went. That I saw Lana. That she totally exceeded all my expectations. She has made a huge progress as a live performer and was actually using the stage in her advantage. The Paradise Edition songs got new colours and the brand new The Great Gatsby song Young and Beautiful was raised to its own sphere. Two of my favourite songs that I had wished to hear, You Can Be The Boss and Kinda Outta Luck, were not played. Still, the most overwhelming moment was when I heard the intro of Born To Die begin. I was damn proud of Lana.

And as the last thing, here's a video I recorded in the concert:

Saturday 20 July 2013

The Hotheads

The Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana closed its doors in Milan for the weekend. Nine Dolce & Gabbana stores are closed as a protest towards the city.

The owners and heads of the brand, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, were convicted for tax evasion in June and are pissed off about being "pilloried" for it. They both think their convict was unfair and are going to appeal about it.

Milan's Commerce Councillor Franco D'Alfonso told the media this week that he can't value the kind of well-known public figures that have evaded taxes in the current economy crisis. His implementations of disgust towards such reckless behaviour pissed off Dolce & Gabbana's headmen. Their annoyment lead to angry twitter messages critisizing Milano, to which D'Alfonso reacted by arguing back.

The Dolce & Gabbana protest reminds a child's tantrum and certainly doesn't encourage trust in their brand or its ethics. It's not very responsible to pick up such a fight and protest like that when you've been convicted for tax evasion. Domenico & Stefano, you should just accept it that you did something wrong.

Friday 19 July 2013

The Children of Our Age

Clothes, shoes and jewellery were stolen from Hollywood celebrities in 2008-2009 when the so called Hollywood Hills Burglars broke into their houses. The victims included names like Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Audrina Patridge. The burglary wave shook the media and spread to international news.

After Lindsay Lohan published her security tape the authorities were given multiple tips. The police arrested 6 young people for the Hollywood Hills Burglaries in the autumn 2009. They were convicted from 2 to 6 years of prison. The group had stolen about 3 million dollars worth of goods.

The kids were never caught for all the burglaries. There were over 50 reports of possible burglaries that had occurred. Each convict eventually pleaded for not guilty.

Sofia Coppola's movie The Bling Ring, based on the actual events, draws a lot from The Suspects Wore Loubotins, a Vanity Fair article written by a reporter Nancy Jo Sales. The movie's got some of the dialogue lines straight from the ringers themselves.

Coppola presents Hollywood glamour, night clubs where the celebrities and fame hungry teens hang out together and the amount of stuff the celebrities own. Closets full of design clothes and whole shelves filled with Louboutins get the audience to drool.

The purpose still isn't to mystify the actual Bling Ring. The stills and slow downs show the ringers for what they truly are. Nothing matters when you're high in the Hollywood night clubs. The characters shake their bodies with the music, surrounded by emptiness.

Of The Bling Ring cast, only Emma Watson (Nicky) is familiar. Her character is just one of the ringers where as the ring leader Rebecca (Katie Chang) is a fresh face. Rebecca doesn't stick to what looks the same as on a Hollywood celeb. She wants the exact piece. The burglaries are referred to as "shopping". There is no way the celebs in the middle of all that stuff can miss a few pieces going missing - or even notice it.

Ironically, the statement is partly true. The Bling Ring broke into the house of Paris Hilton six times before she even reported it to the authorities. The kids found a key under Paris Hilton's doormat on their first break in. The door, however, wasn't even locked and a new key appeared under the very same doormat after the burglary.

Sofia Coppola was given a permission to film for the movie in the actual Paris Hilton's house. During two weeks, the repeats of the burglaries were shot in the very place where they had happened.

Seeing the movie was tough for Paris. "I was really emotional watching it. During some parts of it, I literally had tears in my eyes and I wanted to cry. I knew what happened with the burglaries, but I had never actually seen it – so watching it happen, I was like, 'Oh my God, this really happened to me. These kids were really in my house and did that to me'".

The Bling Ring brings forth the dark side of the media - its abuse. The Hollywood Hills youths searched the locations of the celebrities' houses on Google Maps and tracked their comings and goings using Twitter and Facebook.

Coppola leaves the ring members flat. But the depthless characters are exactly what they are - shallow, obsessed youths that don't think about the consequences of their actions. Nicky's (Emma Watson) character is so close to a caricature with her world reformer speeches that you wonder if she got it all confused to being in the Miss USA contest. Pretty thick.

Googling the real life Nicky, Alexis Neiers, one comes to realize it's all true. She was just starting her career as a real tv star when she was arrested for taking part in the Hollywood Hills Burglaries. Now long out of jail and trying to save her career, Neiers is exactly the pretentious little faker Coppola portrays her to be.

Coppola might sound like having a real harsh approach. But something resembling sympathy from Coppola's part can be seen in the movie as well. The way she places Marc (Israel Broussard), the second man and the telltale of the Bling Ring, in the centre of the story is provocative in a different way. While Rebecca keeps repeating "It's fine, it's fine" on task Mark's nerves are about to break. The movie pictures Marc as an ex loser following his best friend around, trying hard to be something. (And who just happens to tell Miu Mius apart from other shoes.)

Does Coppola still fall into the same celebrity worshiping that she's criticizing?

I would have personally liked to see more depth in The Bling Ring - more depth and less sensation-hungry fishing for popularity among teens.  On the other hand, what else could a movie about the Bling Ring even be?

I'm personally interested in the inner world of the ringers and their personal motivations, but can you actually find anything in a cup that's already empty?

The Bling Ring - or the Hollywood Hills Burglars - are children of our age, soiled and permeated by it. Maybe fame-worshiping and materialism are not only all that the Bling Ring members seem to suggest but also are all that can be seen in them. When criticizing the current world and its celebrity culture what really matters is their story, not who they were. Notable is what they did. And that they did it because they could.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

The MVA Nominations Are Here

Lana Del Rey has gained some of the recognition she'd deserve. Two of her songs were nominated in MTV Music Video Awards.

The nominations are:

National Anthem for Best Art Direction

And Ride for Best Cinematography.

Unfortunately those are both non-voting category, and voting in the awards anyway requires a legal residence of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia. And here you were thinking MTV was international... Still, good for Lana!

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Lana Goes Oriental in Moscow

Lana Del Rey performed in Moscow, at Crocus City Hall, yesterday. After having to postpone her Russia concerts due to her illness earlier this summer she made it to the stage this time.

The star wore a blue dress for her concert, holding an oriental feeling in her appearance with the silver headband crowning it.

Lana was given a plaque for Born to Die going Platinum twice. Picture above.

Some fans spotted her today at the Saint Petersburg train station and got some extra Lana. With the sunglasses and the square pattern shirt, I'd say recognizing her would be quite a job. However she wasn't wearing them all the time and gave some attention to her enthusiastic fans.