Following a rendition of country standard “Stand by Your Man,” Lana Del Rey’s sold-out, Monday night crowd at Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheatre began chanting—in almost perfect unison—for “Florida Kilos.” The song’s been performed live only five times before (thrice in said state) and has been untouched since 2018.
Ms. “Diet Mountain Dew” heard them, paused, and stepped down from her riser to give pianist Byron Thomas and guitarist Blake Stranathan some instructions about what she wanted to happen next. Stranathan then kicked off the almost seven-minute rendition of the cocaine-themed tune, which recently hit 100 million streams on Spotify.
“We have to redeem ourselves in some way, shape, or form,” Del Rey bantered right before entering the song’s final chorus, having just flubbed a few lyrics. “You asked for this, and it’s my fault for not practicing your namesake, for fuck’s sake.”
Nobody seemed to care about the gaffe though, because in manners that go beyond what made her setlist, the 38-year-old New York-born cinnamon girl was making local history.
Not only was Monday night her first time ever in Tampa, but the show—along with a West Palm Beach gig last weekend—marks her first time back in Florida since a Riverview man was arrested for plotting a kidnapping against her in 2018. Granted, there has only been one run of shows since that incident, but to say that Tampeños were overdue for some quality time with Lana is putting it lightly.
Opening the show a few minutes earlier than expected was Nikki Lane, an up-and-coming country artist who gives off more of an Americana sound while wearing what I’d imagine Speak Now-era Taylor Swift would wear to commemorate her debut album: A cowgirl hat, with a lavender, fringe-bottom dress, and sparkly cowgirl boots. Lane’s material consists of comparing a good romance to hitting a casino jackpot, bass intros with the same tempo—and in the same key—as “Psycho Killer,” and a few Prince-esque guitar solos thrown in from her lead axeman.
It wasn’t going to be too much of a shock if we walked away thinking that Lane’s set was more upbeat and energetic than the headliner’s. In between sets, the stage crew was literally sweeping the stage of what I would imagine were sequins that fell off of Lane’s boots or dress, so an incoming sad girl hour-and-a-half was surely inevitable.
Let’s be real: I can pretty much count on one hand how many songs of Del Rey’s you can genuinely party down to. A pretty damn good chunk of her catalog consists of slow-paced material that a casual fan can actually study to without getting distracted. That is, unless one really indulges in her lyrics (most of which are actually her own and not a team of songwriters’). Wanting to get high on the beach, inviting a good friend who moved out of the States to come back for a while, and visiting towns named after European countries in redneck states really does take away from why the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.
After a few friendly waves from her father Rob Grant—a Florida resident who was hanging out in the stage left wing—Del Rey, clad in one of her signature, white wedding-style dresses, ribbons in her hair, and dark, knee-high boots, came out just after 9 p.m. And to start her first-ever Tampa gig—backed by a five-piece band and three backup singers—she dove right into segment mode. A quick medley of “Norman f*****g Rockwell'' blended with 2021’s “Arcadia” kicked things off, just before launching into the only the “Jimmy Jimmy cocoa puff” movement of “A&W.” Considering how cryptic Del Rey’s life story is—outside of her struggles with alcoholism in her teenhood—every member of The Lana Cult (that’s the adopted fanbase name, so you can stop with the stink eye) can only hope that the events depicted in the fourth track off of her latest album Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. are only fictional. On the other hand, there’s nothing in the world like screaming, “Your mom called, I told her, you’re fucking up big time,” at the top of your lungs, no matter what scenario comes up.
“Young and Beautiful” was the first full song Tampa got, and also the first glimpse MidFlorida Credit Union received of Del Rey’s incredibly precise dance troupe, who would extend a massive white veil worn by their boss up the mid-stage stairs and onto the riser. Nine dancers were counted throughout the night, but for the most part, three males spotted were only on hand for the handful of pas de deux numbers, while the ladies ended up taking most of the limelight.
“Bartender” made Del Rey out to be a restaurant or bar regular, with a romantic attachment to, you guessed it, the bartender that serves a really ripping Cherry Coke. She would sit at a physical table stage-right, topped with lavender flowers, a candle, and a mirror on top, while dancers would wave around candelabras, and even pull off a lifting stunt on one of the dancers.
Unlike on the studio recording, the gospel-esque a cappella opening of “The Grants” did not need to be corrected and redone a second time. On “Pretty When You Cry,” Del Rey and her dancers laid down close to each other, gazing up at the stars, as the song’s opening line alludes to. And on “Ride,”—introduced by a clipshow of vintage film footage, which the girls watched on the floor—two massive, flower-covered “Moulin Rouge”-style swings were stood on by two dancers while fans cheered at the line about how the narrator’s father made his life an art. Not that it directly applies to Rob Grant, but dying young and playing hard is still a great way for anyone to go out.
The rest of Del Rey’s set consisted of the earlier, more upbeat anthems found on Born To Die—along with the Ultraviolence title track, which she sang largely hidden away—from before she was an artist endorsed by Taylor Swift and Brian Wilson.
Del Rey sang “Diet Mountain Dew” perched on the mid-stage stairs, just before dancers surrounded her while holding mirror slabs on “Summertime Sadness,” and later, she took a turn on the floral swing for the sing-along “Video Games.”
Before closing up shop with her backup singers on a seven-minute rendition of the title track from Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, Del Rey gave a speech about her gratitude, and how she never takes her career for granted. “I’m just gonna have to come back and do a fucking bigger show,” she spitballed. “I promise I’ll nail ‘Florida Kilos’ for you.”
If a future gala with The Florida Orchestra is in the cards for Honeymoon stans, perhaps her Sunshine State tradition since 2015 will pop up as a band-only section.