Ellie Goulding Wraps Triumphant U.S. Tour at the Palladium: Concert Review
If the crowd at an Ellie Goulding concert is bizarrely eclectic, it’s only because the U.K. pop musician is herself something of anomaly. While Goulding’s origins seem to be rooted in the same indie hipster sect that champions Bon Iver and Florence and the Machine (see her 2011 set at Outside Lands for proof), the singer is now a full-fledged pop star, with her songs saturating the commercial radio waves. But there’s also the aspect of Goulding that appeals to the EDM world, particularly as the singer has been dating Skrillex and collaborating on dance tracks, which all means that Goulding’s headlining performance last night at the Palladium had to straddle genre lines, offering a diverse selection off her two albums.
Goulding, who noted that the show was the final stop on her U.S. tour, laid out her set list in way that offered something to all of these fans. Early on in the evening, following a terse opening set from St. Lucia, Goulding’s enthusiastic backing band transformed numbers such as “Don’t Say A Word” into dynamic rock songs. The set altered course on “Hanging On,” a song the singer said she “did with Tinie Tempah.” Throughout the 90-minute show Goulding stripped down “Guns and Horses” to an acoustic ballad, offered a live dance remix of “Only You,” and satiated the radio listeners with buoyant renditions of “Starry Eyed” and “Lights.”
The response was deafening, even as Goulding continually changed sonic direction. At points, the singer seemed overwhelmed, particularly as the crowd went silent every time she spoke to them. “This is a lot of people and it’s kind of scary,” Goulding said. “Last time I was here, I was watching Bassnectar. And I was like, ‘I want to play here.’ And now I am.” She later added, “This is just so awesome, I can’t even put it into words. I never thought I’d play to this many people in my lifetime.” Indeed, the singer managed to sell out the 4,000 capacity room, which had played host to Justin Timberlake two nights earlier.
The key to Goulding’s rising popularity seems to be her vast radio appeal, but many in the crowd seemed more familiar with her debut, Lights, which was released in 2010, than her most recent effort, Halcyon. “Lights” in particular received a grander response than any number off last year’s follow-up, despite the heavier radio promo received by the latter. The central moment of cohesion? Goulding’s dynamic cover of Elton John’s “Our Song,” a massive hit in her native U.K., which lent itself perfectly to bridging the singer’s musical influences.
The other cohesive element in Goulding’s performance was her expression of raw emotion. The singer’s lovely, sometimes raspy voice always retains a sense of airiness, regardless of her lyrics, but Goulding skillfully manipulates that voice to fully convey each song’s sensibility. “This song is about when you break up with someone and it’s the worst feeling in the world,” Goulding told the audience of “Without Your Love,” a number that most exemplified her power to emote. “And then some time goes by, [and] it’s about finding happiness in yourself -- without being too cheesy.”
Goulding, who also played a pop-up show at LACMA on Monday, certainly has proven that she can hold her own on a headlining tour. Although her crowd is disparate, the eclectic nature of the singer’s show seems to keep everyone happy, which may be why Goulding claimed she had the “best fans ever” several times during the evening. It’s a nice thought, particularly as the love for Goulding’s music seems to be one of the only things the crowd members had in common.
Goulding has been announced as an opening act on Bruno Mars’ upcoming “The Moonshine Jungle World Tour.” The tour dates have yet to be announced, but the North American leg will kick off this summer and the tour will head to Europe in the fall.