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Ellie Goulding performs at EXPRESS LIVE! outdoor venue on May 10. Credit: Courtesy of Katie Bodine

Concert review: Ellie Goulding delivers strong performance to a weak crowd

My mom and I showed up to the Ellie Goulding concert on Tuesday wearing our most mom-ish outfits. She was in a sweatsuit and I wore my pastel raincoat and straight-legged jeans, not trying to impress. We had listened to the copies my dad had burned us of Goulding’s new album, “Delirium,” at least five times through and were excited to hear the songs live after hearing positive reviews of the concert in Cleveland.

But it was apparent that some of the crowd was not there for the same reason. Groups around us on the lawn at EXPRESS LIVE! chatted throughout the entire concert, taking photos and videos and even turning their backs to the stage at times. They only seemed to come alive for the most popular radio hits, such as “On My Mind,” Calvin Harris collab “I Need Your Love,” and “Love Me Like You Do,” which is fine independently but completely tainted by its association with 50 Shades of Grey.

It’s a shame that some weren’t listening because Goulding’s vocals were incredibly on point, even better than the record sounds as she played nearly every song on “Delirium.” The multiple costume changes and strong performances from her backup dancers paired with the artful visuals on the screen behind her made the show fun to watch.

It was my first time at the outdoor venue since it was renamed, and not much has changed except the addition of a VIP tent to the left of the stage and this uber-distracting TV that played commercials up until about halfway through Goulding’s set. In reality, the main issue with the renaming of the venue is that it is much too abrasive with the all-caps and exclamation point. I mean, look how rudely it interrupts the paragraph above.

While I’m not usually one for ballads, the slower more stripped down songs were where Goulding really shined in the set. She did amazing acoustic versions of “Lights” and “Devotion,” and I loved her performance of “Army,” a song she wrote about her best friend when she decided she needed a break from writing about “blokes.”

Keeping in mind her roots in more mellow folk music,  it was apparent that those slower moments were most comfortable for Goulding. But she has said she wanted to make a larger-than-life pop album, which she succeeded in doing. She also announced that after this tour ends in July, she’s going to take a break for a while. I can hardly blame her, given that she said she’s been on tour almost constantly for seven years. Girl probably just wants to sleep in her own bed.

Having been performing live for 10-plus years, Goulding remembers a time when the audience wasn’t littered with smart phone screens.  

Toward the end of the concert, Goulding knelt at the edge of the stage and spoke candidly to fans, asking them to put their phones away for the rest of the concert, which wasn’t much to ask seeing as she had one song left short of the encore.This is something she didn’t do at her previous show in Cleveland, which makes me think she noticed the restlessness of the crowd.

“I promise it’s better to remember it in your head than through your phone,” she said. “I don’t want to see your phones, I want to see your faces.”
This sort of proclamation is something I’ve encountered at concerts before and believe in wholeheartedly. Going to concerts is not about everyone knowing you went to a concert or looking cute or trying to re-experience it later. As much as one might like to capture it, as Goulding said, it’s always better to remember it in your mind.

One comment

  1. Great article. I attended the Cleveland show. Her vocals are amazing. She seemed to have fun but is growing wary of the touring. She primarily played the new stuff but really shined on her older material.

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