Live Review: Ellie Goulding + Contrakids – Metro Theatre (08.03.13)

Ellie Goulding has made a fool of me. Her recent show at The Metro Theatre so exceeded my expectations that I’m actually embarrassed by how much I misjudged her. I had anticipated a rather laid-back night: a tender performance, lighthearted banter with the crowd, maybe some acoustic renditions of her music. What I got was the unlikely combination of a nightclub rave and a rock show, and it was glorious.

The night began with her support act, Contrakids. With Jake on voice, and Jeremy handling the music, the boys proved they had the ability to construct decent songs. Unfortunately for the duo, I struggled to tell those songs apart, and they appeared uncomfortable on stage. They are a very young act, though, so I’ll put that down as inexperience. Once they develop their sound and stage presence further, they’ll be able to make a stronger impact, and develop a fan base.

At 8:00pm, Goulding walked on stage to the excited screams of her audience, and the whispery opening of “Don’t Say A Word”. Enjoyable, but what I’d expected. She followed that up with “Halcyon”, the title track of her sophomore album, and the churning “Figure 8”. It was here that she began to surprise me, first with her stage presence — namely the headbanging and air guitar — and second with her voice. When she sings live, the sugary vocals we’re used to hearing take on a husky aggression. Add her frequent bursts of impressive and violent drumming, and you’ll get an idea of how captivating she is on stage.

She might have appeared a little shy when talking to the audience, but Goulding definitely succeeded at maintaining the energy. Whether it was dancing around on stage, or encouraging people to clap and sing along, she kept people’s eyes on her. The audience was visibly moved when she brought out the ballads, like “Explosions”, or her cover of Elton John’s “Your Song”, and utterly euphoric with tracks like “Anything Could Happen”, and “Starry Eyed”. The setlist was superbly crafted, taking the audience on an emotional journey that always felt natural.

Yes, closing with her super successful “Lights” might’ve been achingly predictable, but Goulding more than made up for it with the rest of the show. I am both stunned and pleased, in equal parts. To see somebody who is relatively new to the music industry creating such a powerful live experience is a wonderful thing, and when she returns, I’ll be first in line for tickets.

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