Concert review: Ellie Goulding at Vector Arena

By Lydia Jenkin

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On her second New Zealand visit, Brit star Ellie Goulding showed just why she's gone from club gigs to stadiums in the space of two years, writes reviewer Lydia Jenkin.
Ellie Goulding.
Ellie Goulding.

Dressed in a white mesh crop top, high waisted black pants, heavy flat soled black boots, and a sparkly bindi, Ellie Goulding's eclectic outfit choice on Saturday night reflected the unusual space she occupies in the global pop landscape.

Part golden haired pop star, part dance music queen, part indie Brit rocker, Goulding may be selling millions of records and have her love life documented by the tabloids.

But when she performs, there's no back up dancers, no costume changes, no elaborate bells and whistles like there might be at a Katy Perry or Taylor Swift show - she gets the crowd just as amped simply with her voice, and her songs.

The audience had warmly welcomed Kiwi support act Broods, who've recently returned from lengthy touring overseas touring and will likely one day headline a show at Vector themselves.

So everyone was raring to go as the opening strains of energetic dubstep dance number Figure 8 brought Goulding to the stage. Backed by a tight four-piece band who successfully created a stadium-sized wall of sound, and an impressive screen backdrop of a diamond patterned tile mosaic, she came out firing.

She moved into some Shakira style hip shaking for Ritual, which mixes some primal drumming with a vocal line that shows off Goulding's upper range, and got the crowd roaring as she took to her own set of drums and percussion at the front of the stage.

She kept the energy high with Goodness Gracious, a recent track co-written with Nate Ruess of Fun, and turned the arena into a red and gold firefly extravaganza for the synth-heavy Animal.

Mid-set she threw in a few older tracks like Starry Eyed, which has her sounding like a more conventional club act, and an intimate version of Guns and Horses accompanying herself on a giant white acoustic guitar, but surprise highlights were stripped back, smoky and raw covers of Alt-J's Tessellate and James Blake's Life Round Here, which gave her plenty of alternative kudos.

Recently released track Beating Heart which was written for the film Divergent also had a strong emotional connection with the crowd, and proved it's not all about the warbling dance beats and flashing lights.

There was a bit of a lull about two thirds of the way through the show, with a few solid but unremarkable tunes, but a burst of attitude that came with a quick excerpt from MIA's Bad Girls was all that was needed to get arms waving again as she headed for an impressive final straight of hits - Only You, Anything Could Happen, I Need Your Love, and Lights.

The crowd singing was impressive, the leaps, and twirls, and running man antics of Goulding were a delight, and though there's undoubtedly an element of cheese to some of the tracks, it's hard to ignore the endorphins flying round the room when she plays these hopeful stadium anthems.

Her husky tones and impressive range remained pitch perfect throughout the night, and she's the type of singer who really throws her lungs behind the emotive phrases, which is surely part of the reason she's gone from playing intimate venues to stadiums in less than two years, and the humour and fun radiating from the stage as she finished the night off with current reggae-skank inspired hit Burn proved exactly why she's 2014's Brit It-Girl.

- NZ Herald

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