Ellie Goulding proves to be a breath of fresh air

A review of Ellie Goulding at the Agganis Arena on March 17, 2014

, Contributing Writer

Continuing her worldwide tour in support of 2012’s Halcyon, Ellie Goulding hit Boston on Monday night for a sold out St. Patrick’s Day concert at the Agganis Arena. The venue, filled with a mainly underage crowd, moved and grooved to the music of the British singer as she brought her unique brand of pop to Beantown once again.

Goulding’s initial appearance was fairly jarring for a modern pop show. While she wore shorts and a sports bra that revealed her midriff, there was no cleavage (butt or breasts) showing, and the all-black look, coupled with a pair of clunky black shoes (no heels), could have easily blended into the background if it wasn’t for her spectacular long blond hair. Kicking things off with “Figure 8”, the crowd cheered when the singer attempted a sort of body roll move, but the young British artist seemed more at home getting in a few hits on the drums and stomping around like a rocker.

The set moved quickly, from the irresistibly catchy “Goodness Gracious” into a sexier (albeit somewhat forced feeling) “Animal”, with the stage doused in red light. Goulding paused to chat with the crowd for a moment, declaring “I can tell I’ve got fans here that have been fans for quite a while” before launching into one of her first hits, “Starry Eyed”.

Goulding was backed by a seven piece band, including guitar, bass, drums, synthesizer, and three backup singers who took center stage momentarily while the singer ran backstage. Although Goulding took a few momentary breaks, there were surprisingly no costume changes throughout the night (unless you count a brief suspenders-related wardrobe malfunction during one of the dancier parts of the show).

A highlight of the concert was the acoustic interlude. With her soprano voice, Goulding required varying levels of vocal support (recorded and live) during many of the lower, more over-produced numbers. But during the stripped down set, which featured just the singer with a guitar and later a piano, the almost folk-sounding vocals offered a new interpretation of numbers such as “Beating Heart” from the upcoming film Divergent and the Elton John classic “Your Song”.

For a St. Patrcik’s day in Boston, the holiday really didn’t come up often. Goulding briefly acknowledged the celebration by saying “Happy St. Patrick’s Day I guess!” and asking if anyone in the crowd was drinking a Guinness. In fact, the entire night remained quite PG, which was appropriate for the younger-skewing crowd.

Back with her full band, things chugged along steadily for a while, getting more fun towards the end of the set. “This is the part where I do some really stupid dance moves,” Goulding told the crowd. “I’m not good at dancing per say, I just like to move.” And move she did, encouraging the audience members to be just as awkward as she for hits like “Anything Can Happen” and “I Need Your Love”. From the robot to the running man to the occasional pelvic thrust, the crowd cheered Goulding on as she single handedly raised the energy level of the arena.

Using her actions rather than her words, Goulding was able to achieve a role model status that many pop artists today struggle with. During “Lights”, the final song of the main set, she told onlookers not to film but rather to live in the moment, as “you’re never gonna watch it again anyways”.

“You My Everything” and “Burn” capped off the night’s two-song encore, with Goulding saying to the crowd “I hope you’ve had a good time… I’ve really enjoyed it!”

Overall, it was a solid performance by a unique artist who is not only a well-trained singer but also a great personality and a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated and oversexed industry.

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