Ellie Goulding is not a pop star. The 27-year-old Brit straddles the line between glittery, top 40 mainstream and making clear her indie leanings. To some, that makes her seem uneven (as the San Jose Mercury News is saying), but I believe her wide breadth of influences make her sets eclectic and her live show all the more appealing.
Goulding started her set at the Bill Graham on Saturday night with high energy and a large band backing her (including three supporting vocalists and the band Rudimental). She burned through her first few songs with conviction, including an intricate, dizzying cover of Alt-J’s “Tesselate.” She conveyed a fierce temperament, quickly paradoxing it with, “A lot of times I’m super shy.” To demonstrate, she sang an acoustic “Guns and Horses” on guitar.
After finishing “Beating Heart,” she began, “I always ask this question and no one ever raises their hand—who feels like they’re in love? I generally ask that and no one…” She was right—no one did volunteer their hand for count, but she made her point, and floated into a sweet, fragile cover of Elton John’s “Your Song.”
From there, Goulding livened the pace, backing her performance with vivid visuals (magenta diamond graphics, swirling wall projections, rolling red strobe lights), and then she stopped and told everyone, “There’s so many of you, it’s really nuts. Now is the time we want the energy up. We gotta move. So if you want to join me in some stupid dancing, [let’s go].” When she began “Anything Could Happen,” you could barely hear Goulding over the crowd.
“Lights,” the last song of her main set, revived her propensity for dynamic EDM. Heavy live drumming by Rudimental and a strong bassline hum dominated the track, and Ellie ended on a jazzy blue note.
Not long after she went offstage, Goulding was back for her encore. The stage effects had turned into a red brume, before beginning “You, My Everything.” She closed her 100 minute set with mega hit “Burn.” Her singers brought weight to the song’s bridge, making it dense with a four part harmony, as Ellie picked up her guitar to close it out.
Check out pictures from the show here in our gallery.
Tessellate (Alt-J Cover) / Life Round Here
Guns and Horses (Acoustic)
Your Song (Elton John cover)
Bad Girls / Salt Skin
Every Time You Go / This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)
Anything Could Happen
I Need Your Love
You, My Everything