Ellie Goulding at The O2, Dublin – Review & Photos

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ellie-goulding-o2-dublin-22Ellie Goulding played a sold out show at The O2, Dublin on March 1st.

Chloe Howl, due to release her first album later this year, kicks off the night with a reasonable set of danceable numbers, but reaction from the crowd is sparse, and no-one really believes her insistence that we’re “noisy”. She isn’t helped by the flat lighting she receives, sterilising her performance, even though the songs are decent. In a smaller venue with a less Goulding-focussed crowd, Chloe Howl might have put on a good show, but as it stands she seems to find it tough to derive energy from the crowd.

The vibe of the gig is a far different one than the underground metal halls I grew up in, much more of a drunk 14-year-olds kind of show, I overheard hilariously described as “a higher concentration of shitheads than most gigs”, but they’re enthusiastic, they move, and are loud in all the right places. As the backing band walk onstage, that kind of excitement that only arena gigs can provide is in the air, and the reaction of the crowd as Goulding appears tingles the spine, which she manages once again as she breaks into the massive chorus of opening track ‘Figure 8’.

For somebody like myself who gets caught up in theatrics easily, this kind of show is right down my alley – aggressively lit, enthusiastic backing band, enormous choruses and an eager crowd. Few properly estimate the effect, but the effect of simply having a backing band that look like they’re actually having a good time is absolutely essential, and her backing band, particularly the singers, fulfil that role perfectly. ‘Goodness Gracious’ and ‘Starry Eyed’ are further highlights in a thoroughly engrossing first third of the set.

Goulding wouldn’t be the first to have a set that drags a bit in the middle, but this one offends with distinction. For an act that excels at the upbeat numbers, cutting off a major chunk of the mid-set slowfest would be a wise move. Admittedly, her superb performance of the Elton John cover, ‘Your Song’, is certainly worth experiencing, not to mention the unbelievable crowd reaction, but unfortunately, not all of her quieter songs are of that quality nor inspire such reactions. Needless to say, it’s a relief when a bit of energy is finally re-injected with ‘My Blood’ and ‘Salt Skin’.

If anybody was lost in the middle, we’re all snapped back with the last part of the show, as the final five tracks of the show are simply fantastic to behold, beginning with the anthemic ‘Anything Can Happen’, the inspiring crowd response to which is exhilarating. It’s followed by excellent renditions of ‘I Need Your Love’ and ‘Lights’.

It’s easy to criticise a show like this as formulaic, but it just simply works, no more so than in the final song of the night ‘Burn’. She’s not going to change our lives, or pop music, but it’s simply easy to have a good time at this kind of show. In spite of the weakness of the middle, Goulding has managed to bookend it with a fantastic beginning and end. It demonstrates both the best and worst aspects of arena gigs – when it works, as in ‘Anything Can Happen’ and ‘Your Song’, it sends shivers down the spine and goosebumps on the arms. But when it doesn’t, we’re left struggling to focus on the music behind a bored, talkative crowd. However, in typical Hollywood fashion, Goulding smashes us with an excellent exit, one to make us forget the questionable middle segment.

Review by Conor Cosgrave

Setlist

  • Figure 8
  • Ritual
  • Goodness Gracious
  • Animal
  • Starry Eyed
  • Stay Awake
  • Tessellate
  • Life Round Here
  • Guns & Horses (Acoustic)
  • Your Song
  • How Long Will I love You
  • The Writer
  • Explosions
  • My Blood
  • Bad Girls/Salt Skin
  • Only You
  • ETYG/This Love
  • Anything Could Happen
  • I Need Your Love
  • Lights
    ————
  • You My Everything
  • Burn

Photos by Tudor Marian

 

Lucy Ivan

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