TAMPA — Midway through her first-ever concert in town, Lana Del Rey turned away from her fans to conspire with the cowboy playing piano behind her.
“‘Florida Kilos!’ ‘Florida Kilos!’” chanted the crowd, including several fans waving homemade signs requesting the tune. Del Rey, who wrote the song with director Harmony Korine inspired by the Miami crime documentary “Cocaine Cowboys,” hadn’t performed it live since 2018.
Minutes passed as the 38-year-old singer huddled with her band, the audience only getting louder the longer they waited. Their screams almost drowned out the opening guitar notes.
“You all have to sing it!” Del Rey smiled. “You asked for it.”
Del Rey’s long-awaited Tampa concert Monday was a sweeping, cinematic delight. While her current tour follows the spring release of her ninth studio album, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd,” most of the setlist was pulled from her earliest records. It more than made up for lost time.
The singer-songwriter, born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, has become something of a mythical figure in the pop world, from her beginnings as a 2010s internet “it girl” to a head-scratching appearance at an Alabama Waffle House earlier this summer (for those interested, she shared the story behind the latter a few days ago). Her songs make numerous references to Florida. But for years, fans usually had to leave the state to see her.
But last month, Del Rey announced a fall tour spread across some lesser-visited cities, starting in Franklin, Tennessee, and ending in Charleston, West Virginia. It included her first stop in West Palm Beach since 2015. Plus her debut performance in the Tampa Bay region.
Despite the short notice, her Florida fans came well-prepared. Some arrived hours before doors opened, hiding from the roasting afternoon sun under umbrellas. Many wore outfits inspired by their queen’s looks over the years: coquettish sundresses paired with Mary Janes and hair ribbons, cowboy boots and prairie skirts, endless pairs of heart-shaped sunglasses.
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Del Rey drifted through 19 songs during her nearly two-hour set. She flirted with both hip-hop beats (“A&W”) and gospel choir harmonies (“The Grants” and “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd”). There was even a Tammy Wynette cover that transformed the amphitheater into a honkey-tonk, complete with denim-covered backup dancers swaying along.
Del Rey’s voice oscillated from sultry and serene to tormented and contemplative. She is an expert in breath control; even as she flew through the air on a swing of flowers (”Video Games”) or splayed flat on her back (”Pretty When You Cry”), not one velvety note was out of pitch.
And of course, the nostalgic vibes you’d expect from a Lana show were all there: grainy Super 8 footage behind her, all neon signs and crashing waves and stallions silhouetted over sunsets. Fog curled around the set pieces, from the grand staircase in the center of the stage to the gilded mirrors wrapped in flowing fabric. Half Hollywood, half heaven.
While “Florida Kilos” was a surprise gift to a dedicated crowd, Del Rey and her fans stumbled through the lyrics together. The singer laughed and shook her head. When the song was over, she directed her pianist to start it up again — this time, “a little more spicy.”
“Alright, we have to redeem ourselves in some shape or form,” she told her followers before launching into the chorus again. “It’s your namesake, and it’s my fault for not practicing it.”
At one point in the show, Del Rey noted that her father, self-proclaimed “Nepo Daddy” musician Rob Grant, is a Florida man (He lives nearby on Anna Maria Island.) Around her final song, she thanked Florida “for being the most amazing state in America.”
“I’m just going to have to come back and do an even bigger show.” Her voice was briefly muffled by the shrieks. “... I promise I’ll nail ‘Florida Kilos’ for you.”
Lana Del Rey Tampa setlist
1. Norman F--king Rockwell
4. Young and Beautiful
6. Chemtrails Over the Country Club
7. The Grants
9. Pretty When You Cry
11. Stand by Your Man (Tammy Wynette cover)
12. Florida Kilos
13. Blue Jeans
15. Born to Die
16. Diet Mountain Dew
17. Summertime Sadness
18. Video Games
19. Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd