ELLIE GOULDING played two shows at Auckland’s Studio last week, on Thursday and Friday – among the first in the world to be surrounding the release of her sophomore album Halcyon (which entered the NZ Top FOrty at number 3 last week).
Cheese on Toast sent BOYCRUSH aka Alistair Devrick (also member of The Ruby Suns) along to the show to review it for us and here’s what he reports …
She has played at Barack Obama’s christmas tree lighting ceremony, the Royal Wedding, on Letterman and is touring the States and Europe to sold-out venues of 4,000+, but despite her popularity I had never heard of Ellie Goulding.
At the bar I encountered three comically bemused, singlet-clad muscle-men complaining that they thought it would be a dubstep show. Their confusion is (nearly) understandable given that Ellie Goulding has released a multitude of remixes and is known to be dating American superstar dubstep producer Skrillex, sharing a haircut with him as well as featuring on one of his songs.
Wearing a teddy covered by leather shorts, (“total babe” was a friend’s description) she started the show with “Don’t Say a Word” but it was so quiet it was almost hard to tell that she had started, which was worrying and confusing. The backing track started off louder than the rest of the band but the balance and volume improved as the set went on.
The backing band (4-piece, imagine unhealthy Robbie Williams) was competent and enthusiastic, if a bit over-the-top rock-star. There were definitely feet on monitors, and they were happiest when they were playing the more down-tempo songs that they could wile out to with their best moves.
The crowd was enthusiastic but a little perplexed until the fourth song, “Salt Skin”, when the backing band joined in singing – shouting the chorus in an anthemic (I’m trying not to use the word English) stadium-pop hook. This worked so well that I wondered if it might be a good idea to tag a couple of Robbies out and tag a couple of backing singers in to make the backing track vocals in the rest of the set similarly convincing.
Her album has some strong production from well-established producers – Kish Mauve’s Jim Eliot (on Halcyon) and Starsmith (on Bright Lights). As always with electronic music however, these laboured over recordings are difficult to present live in a way that is visually as well as sonically exciting.
The rock band approach is easy to understand and the crowd responded well, but I found the approach to the live show too standard and thus a bit disappointing. Santigold, for one example, performs with roughly the same instrumentation but manages to capture the original intent and depth of her recordings in a more interesting way through more creative arrangements and more tasteful stylistic decisions.
Her awkward (still trying not to use the word English) earnestness (of the song Joy: “this song is about the feeling of joy”) was endearing, and Goulding seemed to be genuinely happy to be performing in New Zealand – “I wish I could have come here sooner” she said and was equally enthusiastic on twitter.
She played for a little over an hour and though for most of the show I felt detached like I was watching TV, the end had some exciting moments. The now-familiar singles (“Anything Could Happen”, “Lights”, “Starry Eyed”) were enjoyable, and my girlfriend observed that it was novel that there were more girls than boys at a concert she attended – about 80 percent of the audience was female and between the age of 18 and 24.
The applause at the end was thunderous and I was reminded of my first times attending shows when I was young and excited and infatuated with someone and that someone’s music. It was fun to be around people who felt that excitement. - review by Alistair Devrick aka BOYCRUSH
BOYCRUSH will be releasing their debut EP “Everybody All The Time” digitally next Friday 9 November.
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