MANSFIELD — Pillowy clouds of stage fog rose over the white baby grand piano right as the serpentine strains of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” seeped out of the speakers. It was spooky and sensual, the perfect setup for an evening of music that embodied both qualities.
For all the ways she has been described (and criticized), Lana Del Rey is essentially pop music’s patron saint of sorrows. She even looks like a religious figure you’d see caricatured on candles sold at the corner bodega. Her sadness is not just her own — it’s shared by her fans, an eager lot who show up to her concerts in flower crowns and T-shirts with her pouting visage.
Early on, Del Rey’s persona came off as cartoony, too contrived. But a little more than a year after she first played in Boston at the House of Blues, it’s clear Del Rey has matured dramatically as an artist, both on record and in concert. Her most recent album, last year’s “Ultraviolence,” was an underrated masterclass in seduction, and she came very close to replicating its after-hours charms at the Xfinity Center on Tuesday night.
A shoddy sound mix early in the performance nearly ruined the first handful of songs (“Cruel World,” “Cola,” “Blue Jeans”), prompting you to lean in to hear her over the audience sing-alongs. Eventually, her four-piece band pared down and rode shotgun to Del Rey’s purr of a voice. She is a quiet, intuitive singer, and once she rose above the din, she commanded every bit of the stage with ballads such as “Summertime Sadness” and “Video Games.” (“Young and Beautiful,” another hit, was sorely missed, as it has been on previous tour dates.)
On a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” over the faint tap of soft brushes, she showcased an exquisite control of her voice that played up the song’s sad-eyed nostalgia. The jumbo screens rendered Del Rey in black-and-white, with a close-up of the thick, false eyelashes she batted between verses. And “Brooklyn Baby” was a portrait of the artist in miniature: streetwise and sublime.
An opening set from Grimes, the stage name of Canadian pop musician Claire Boucher, was not an obvious or natural fit. But she made the most of her time, triggering exuberant electro-pop from a laptop.
LANA DEL REY
At: Xfinity Center, Tuesday