Ellie Goulding

Venue: The Star Theatre @ The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore
Date: 13th June 2014
Promoter: Now/Live
Review by: Fadhil R.
Special Thanks: Dan, and the Now/Live team, and Universal Music Singapore
Press Con Photos by Alvin Ho: Ellie Goulding Press Con @ Fairmont Hotel

Which was Singapore’s greatest concert so far? It depends on whom you ask. The way I see it, if you’re gonna build the right stage for a top notch performance, you’ve gotta do it in style. With style means with a purpose, and that purpose is to showcase our commitment in the music industry. Without wishing to put too fine a point on it, pop remains for the most part, the domain of the world. While she may be a relatively new name not too long ago for a lot of people, Ellie Goulding is only human, making a name for herself as one of the most exciting new artists on the British indie pop scene. And she couldn’t sound different back then up until now after years of relentless touring led to well-received sets at previous well- known festivals like Brazil’s Lollapalooza and Coachella in the US this year. Technically, she’s more famous in Europe.

Needless to say, she has come a long way from those peanut better commercials with her cover of “Your Song” by Elton John in them. Songs about love, rejection, and hope involving powerful lyrics are all well and good but luckily for us, Ellie’s decided to come to our Singapore shores once again and deliver her own keyboard-sprinkled breed of indie pop.

Before Star Theatre breaks into a nightclub, there’s work to do and it’s down to Ellie to kick it all off and as expected, she lived up to all expectations during her sold-out concert. In front of an intimate but very vocal crowd at the Star Theatre, Goulding proved she isn’t just another run-of-the mill pop star who traded family time for stage time just for the hell of it. The British singer showed us she’s worth all the fuss the media makes over her; she’s fierce, mysterious, passionate, bold, and unafraid. She boasts music talent that is raw, unprocessed, and all too rare in today’s industry. She ramped up the fun by starting with “Figure 8” and “Ritual”, delivering them with an exhilarating display of belief. Although cheerful and amiable in person, she has been the creative one knowing when to boost the energetic crowd with her sing-along choruses in “Starry Eyed”, followed by “Goodness Gracious”.

One of the most heartening aspects of modern music-obsessed life is that world of synth pop seems to increasingly exhibit an enlightened mindset, resulting in a lot of artistes making their own renditions and turning them into mainstreams. This fascinating compilation of Alt-J’s “Tessellate” and James Blake’s “Life Round Here” brings together a raw essence of her potential. That cover rendition of hers is clearly making a mark, because the place is packed and flowing with enthusiasm.

It really is a beautifully presented show, with amazing, pinpoint-sharp sound. Everything seems to be coming together for her right now. Few acoustic pieces involving “Guns and Horses” and “Beating Heart” are certainly inspired choices by majority of her fans. Her gravely vocals – reminiscent of one of the world’s most treasured gutter-mouths, Courtney Love, with a sprinkle of Blondie’s Debbie Harry – puts a whole legion of lip-syncing pop stars to shame.

Being a great musician today isn’t just about having a great voice or an aptitude for songwriting. It’s about the whole package; what you offer on stage, what you offer off stage, your charisma, your controversy and of course, your level of intrigue. And Goulding is the real deal. She’s splashed all over magazine covers, continuously appears to serve up edgy and shocking outfits recently for eager journalists to stick their teeth into and has the ability to penetrate you so deeply with her vocals that if you’re not careful, she just might take your breath away. She clearly shows that with “The Writer” and “Your Song”, making her acceptance by her fans truly complete.

You can’t doubt her authenticity. She takes her cue from a wide range of genres and takes notes from famous celebrities like Kanye West and Katy Perry, but she has that similar feels as Imogen Heap, developing herself with confidence and musical dexterity. There’s nothing lacking in her, especially performing songs like “Explosions” and “My Blood”, both songs unleashing waves of different melodic sense. To top it all off, she’s only 27 and yet to come to her prime age. Imagine her going into rock rhythms and experimenting on her abilities. It could be well be that everyone will be smiling, but then again it’s hard to tell.

A very good friend of Ellie Goulding that we all really hope she (Taylor Swift) would make a cameo at some point, logically speaking didn’t happen if it wasn’t for the non-costly tickets. However, the sight of Goulding’s imperious brown eyes cutting through the darkness sends the audience into wild raptures. Forget about the Swifties, we have the Gouldiggers to run the show, too.

Her intense facial expressions, her carefully coordinated movements that coincided with guitar strums and even her questionable somehow sexy, awkward dancing slithering from left to right, at the same time acknowledging her band mates, were made for stage viewing that hooked everyone in, from start to finish. But there are moments of true inspiration with “Bad Girls / Salt Skin / Only You” being played all at once; it’s probably the main highlight of the show as Goulding distilled the spirit of 70’s rock in her drumming skills.

The passionate Singapore crowd showed Goulding that even without any cameo appearances, her following of Gouldiggers is dedicated and loyal. On at least eight occasions through the show, Goulding pointed the microphone towards the crowd, and they chanted back every single lyric she was pining to hear. In a delicious turnaround, Goulding interrupts the set to dispense sturdy introductions to each of her band and how thankful she is, before allowing them to continue. Highlight tracks included “Anything Could Happen”, “I Need Your Love”, and of course, the singer’s breakthrough single “Lights” translated enormously well live amid a blizzard of cellphone’s backlight from the audience blinded our eyes for awhile. Despite the success Ellie Goulding has achieved in UK and across the States, she seemed genuinely grateful and humbled to be playing for a sold-out Singapore crowd as she signals what it should be the end of her set.

On a side note, there’s something about concerts being indoors. You can’t drink, well not too much. I bet most of the audience wanted to be hungover the next day and just go out partying to Goulding’s brilliant set. It’s not like we’re going to be conservative and not getting crazy over someone by just sitting down. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and that Friday night marks the finale of Ellie Goulding tour in Southeast Asia. That being said, she and her irreplaceable band stormed onto the stage again on a mission to get our feet moving for an encore.

It’s never too late to play “You My Everything” as there’s plenty of wacky showmanship from Goulding. With a loyal audience who didn’t leave before the encore, the final song for the night is a killer. Ending with “Burn”, it’s clear that a historic new chapter for Ellie Goulding has just begun. Oh, despite her goofy antics, though she hides it well, she does have a sense of awe after all. Whether Goulding’s offstage behavior is good or bad, reckless or conservative, or down right messy and out of control, when a young artist has as much raw talent as she does, they should be able to behave in any damn way they want. All gossip, hearsay, headlines and rumors become irrelevant when this girl flexes her pipes. And man, they were ripped that night.