Ellie Goulding August 4, 2011 Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
Ellie Goulding is pretty much pop royalty, and rightly so--beyond singing at the Royal Wedding in April, the electro-pop songstress knows how to command a stage with energy and snap. Her voice falls somewhere between Bjork and a yodeling milkmaid, and Goulding's persona marries "cute" and "British." Live at the Fine Line last night, Goulding commented on liking the smaller, more "intimate" venue, because she could see everyone--and everyone, in this case, was a horde of excited teenage fans, who could match Goulding on every lyric.[jump]
Goulding's 2010 album Lights is all dance-pop meshed with atmospheric electronica and folksy soulfulness. She's confessional like Robyn, breathy like Lykke Li, and still manages to carve out a corner for herself in the charts. As she trounced on stage last night, leopard-printed tights and skintight black bodice-satin-underwear-thing, Goulding delivered her stellar hits with all the punch of a girl who was nominated for eight different music awards (between Britain and the United States) in 2010 and two so far in 2011. Yet Goulding admirably avoided over-glitzing her performance and stage with expensive effects, so that the most dominant characteristic of her show was her impressive vocal range and the way she hitches her voice.
Goulding got through a half dozen songs quickly, and then her band took a brief intermission and exited the stage. As she took up her acoustic guitar, she said to the crowd, "So when I first started singing I was just playing my guitar in my bedroom, and it probably just sounded like this." With that, she began a gentle version of "The End," to the delight of the crowd.
"I grew up on the border between Wales and England... and not that I don't love America, I do, but I'm just a little homesick," said Goulding after, musing to the crowd. "This song is about that." And with that, she played a stripped-down version of "Wish I Stayed."
Some of the best moments of the show came when Goulding would take up the trap kit that was situated next to her microphone, because she played it with this sexy, heartfelt fervor that was so enjoyable to watch, such as on "Believe Me."
Goulding seemed to relish her audience, grabbing hands on her way up the stage when she came back for her encore and even grabbing a delighted fan's camera to take a shot of the crowd. As if she wasn't adorable enough already, this move essentially sealed Goulding as the cutest girl ever--and the enamored crowd certainly thought so, too.
Critic's Bias: I've been listening to Lights all year. The Crowd: Frighteningly young. Lots of screaming teenage girls, shrieking for their life like it was 1999 and Backstreet was back. Overheard in the crowd: "Oh my God, I'm gonna cry," said my friend as Goulding began her cover of "Your Song". Random Notebook Dump: Openers Estate were decent; electronic music that stretched itself for an onstage personality. Maybe if they didn't seem so painfully Urban Outfitters about things I would have been more interested. Still, they sounded good. For more photos: See our full slideshow by Tony Nelson.
Set list: Under the Sheets This Love (Will Be Your Downfall) Every Time You Go Human Little Dreams Guns and Horses The End Wish I Stayed Your Song The Writer Home Believe Me Lights Animal
Encore: Biggest Mistake Handlebars