Lana Del Rey, Scala, London
Wild Beasts, The Cathedral, Manchester

The glitz, the glamour, the extreme misery. Lana Del Rey calls it Hollywood sadcore and it's too alluring to ignore

Twenty-one. That's how many times, consecutively, that I listen to "Video Games" on the way to see Lana Del Rey. It still isn't quite enough.

Sometimes, one song towers over all others as Single of the Year, and 2011 is one of those years. Lana Del Rey's "Video Games", a surprise Top 10 hit three weeks ago, is a stunning piece of "Hollywood sadcore" (her description) which channels the ghosts of Nancy's "Bang Bang", Nico's "These Days" and Dusty's "You Don't Own Me", and has captured countless imaginations, already spawning covers ranging from Bombay Bicycle Club to the bloody awful Kasabian, and some superb remixes.

It's the type of song that comes along twice or thrice a decade, if we're lucky. For a beautifully desolate four minutes 40 seconds, "Video Games" slows life to The Matrix-style "bullet time", so that the world freezes and the only thing moving – at its own elegant pace – is the song. And nothing else matters.

Lana Del Rey is the syncretic pseudonym of one Elizabeth Grant, taking the first name of Lana Turner and the surname from a car: not, one assumes, the boxy 1970s Ford Del Rey but the tail-finned and impossibly stylish 1950s Chevrolet Delray. A 25-year-old American exiled in London, Grant grew up in the dying holiday resort of Lake Placid, the US equivalent of "the seaside town they forgot to close down". Her act is, therefore, both utterly contrived and completely natural: she was reared on faded glitz.

It's the contrivance which bothers many: Del Rey has become a lightning rod for snarky sniping from hateful hipsters, questioning her "authenticity" and sneering at the fact she's had collagen injections to make her lips look like Salvador Dali's sofa. None of which troubles me. Pop is theatre, so inauthentic by its very nature. And body modification is the business of the modified, no one else. But it barely matters: Lana Del Rey is beyond their reach. We have, before us, a true star.

Her vintage aesthetic, encapsulating, to quote one of her lyrics, "the dark side of the American dream", dominates every detail tonight, from her lacquered auburn curls, gold shirt and white slacks to the archive cine film projected on to four big balloons overhead: a funeral at the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, Margot Fonteyn dancing Swan Lake and a tired Elvis Presley massaging the bridge of his nose, with Lana herself craftily edited in at various moments. Tellingly, she doesn't look remotely out of place.

She begins with "China Doll", which boasts the exquisitely self-aware couplet "I even think that I found God in the flashbulbs of your pretty cameras /Am I glamorous, tell me, am I glamorous?" Del Rey sings in a voice that's half Karen on "Superstar", half Stevie on "Sara" (yes, that good). Hers is a voice that knows all there is to know about the crying game. "I feel so alone every Friday night", she sings on the forthcoming single "Born to Die".

There are occasional reminders that this is the 21st century in snatches of street-slang like "you're so dope" and "you da bestest", and the backbeat of tonight's finale "You can be the Boss" proves she's listened to plenty of hip-hop, but her classically jazzy vocal ensures the spell is never broken. Before "Video Games" itself, Lana sighs "OK, let's do this", as though the weight of that song's success is exhausting her. But I'm not tired of it yet. Another 21 times wouldn't be enough.

Wild Beasts' show in Manchester Cathedral is the latest sign of a new trend. Following the Laura Marling tour and Elbow's gig in this very building, "playing gigs in cathedrals" is the new "playing gigs in forests", which was the new "playing gigs on boats". Sure, churches have been open to rock'n'roll for a long time, with Union Chapel in London leading the way, but there's something about the scale of a cathedral that suits bands who like to think bigger.

This 15th-century pile, still standing proud at the end of Deansgate despite the worst efforts of the Luftwaffe and the IRA, may be built in the Perpendicular Gothic style, but this perpendicular goth is grateful for a pew. Where, instead of hymn books, one finds empty bottles of Becks and Kopparberg. Its nave was controversially used as a location for the alien invasion game Resistance: Fall of Man. Its interior is made even more spectacular by the smoke and searchlights of Wild Beasts, a band whose epic dream-rock makes the most of the ecclesiastical acoustics.

Wild Beasts grew up breathing the same Cumbrian air as British Sea Power, and metaphors about babbling, trickling Lakeland meltwater are too tempting. Hayden Thorpe's soaring falsetto has earned comparisons to Billy Mackenzie of the Associates, and resonates spectacularly in the cathedral arches.

After a barely-noticed debut, their second album, Two Dancers, won a Mercury nomination. This year's effort, Smother, can expect to make many critics' end-of-year lists. They are sufficiently proud of it that early material was excised from the set to make way for the likes of "Reach a Bit Further" and "Bed of Nails". Even though they've moved to the hipster hell of Dalston, north London, they retain something of the "other", and tonight's surroundings make even more sense, given that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the new album's stated influences.

A pity, then, that they don't match that in their dress sense: one of them, unforgivably, takes the stage in a woolly hat. But you can get away with that when you're effectively wearing a cathedral on your head.

Next Week:

Simon Price sees Coldplay go acoustic as Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland play the Little Noise Sessions

Rock Choice

Ukulele-toting Aussie C W Stoneking brings his evocative and witty ragtime-blues to Concorde 2, Brighton (tonight); St John's, Coventry (tomorrow); Trinity, Bristol (Tue) and Koko, London (Wed). Ska survivors Madness host their House of Fun weekender at Butlins, Minehead, (Fri to Sun), with guests including Rob da Bank and Jerry Dammers.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

    Rebranding Christmas

    More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
    A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

    A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

    Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

    He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...