Outside Lands 2017 Day 3: Lorde and The Who reign

The 10th anniversary Outside Lands Festival closed out in fine style with powerful main-stage acts, young and old.

On Sunday’s finale of the three-day extravaganza, 20-year-old Lorde played a sublime set of evocative, and catchy, music from her two albums “Pure Heroine” and “Melodrama,” which she said is about “all of the emotions you feel when you’re a new adult.”

Already a seasoned performer, the singer, songwriter and producer’s superstar qualities — talent, individualism and communicativeness — showed off in a concert where she made tens of thousands of people packing Golden Gate Park’s polo field feel like she was performing just for them.

Outfitted in a black lacy, flowing number reminiscent of Stevie Nicks and sounding a touch like Kate Bush, the New Zealand musician born Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor appealingly defies cliches.

She was wearing sneakers, as was her ensemble of backup dancers, attired in what looked like blue hospital scrubs; their moves looked more like something from a contemporary troupe than standard fare in music videos.

She often danced along, during midtempo and upbeat tunes, opening with “Tennis Courts” and “Magnets,” and ending with hits “Royals,” “Perfect Places,” “Team” and “Green Light.”

She was just as magical when she slowed things down. She sat on the edge of the stage with her songwriting partner Jack Antonoff, who played acoustic guitar and vocalized with her on a charming version of Paul Simon’s 1972 “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”

Famous for her ability to connect on universal human feelings, she did just that on “Liability,” which she said, “is as about as lonely as I’ve gotten in a song.”

It was an interesting contrast to The Who’s Pete Townshend, 72, who introduced the 1965 anthem “My Generation” by saying, “I wrote it when I was 19; I was very angry.”

The Who’s lead vocalist Roger Daltrey showed how rock is done on the Lands End stage on day three of the 10th Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Townshend and Roger Daltrey, the two remaining original members of the groundbreaking English band, looked and sounded great during a set nicely tailored to many in the audience way too young to have grown up with their music.

Sometimes they even introduced the songs, as did Daltrey, 73, on the jangly 1960s “The Kids Are Alright.”

They really rocked out with an excellent backup band, powering through their catalog, from “I Can’t Explain,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Bargain,” “Join Together,” “You Better You Bet” and “5:15” to “Pinball Wizard,” “See Me, Feel Me,” “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Daltrey showed no sign of vocal decline on “Love reign over me,” during which rain emerged from the mist, and his microphone swinging didn’t look like a display from a septuagenarian.

Same goes for Townshend. Although it’s been decades since he’s smashed a guitar, and at one point he said, “I should be dead,” The Who are anything but that.

Accompanied by a video montage of pivotal moments in music (a pre-show video offered interesting stories and tidbits about the band through the years) and world events, these pros not only have proved their place in history, they’re still exemplifying how rock is done.

Leslie Katz
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Leslie Katz

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