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Show Review: Ellie Goulding at The Royal Oak Music Theatre January 28, 2013

Much has happened for British electro-pop singer Ellie Goulding since she first played the Royal Oak Music Theatre in August of 2011. She dated dubstepper Skrillex, toured with Katy Perry, secured a major US hit single, “Lights”, and released a sophomore album, Halycon. Goulding returned to The Royal Oak Music Theatre this past Monday evening to play to a sold out crowd. Goulding first played The Royal Oak Music Theatre as a relatively unknown in 2011, days before performing a noteworthy gig at that years Lollapalooza festival. Ellie Goulding is at a critical point in sustaining her radio career the US. The title track, from her debut album, “Lights”, slowly grew to become one of radio’s biggest hits of the past year, yet “Anything Could Happen”, the first single from Halcyon failed to make a dent in the US.

On stage, Goulding is immediately likable; her understated charm and playfulness shine throughout her stage show. Goulding opened her show with Halycon’s moody “Don’t Say a Word”, though the audience didn’t take to her direction and sang every one of Goulding’s syllables. Goulding’s live vocals are frail, yet haunting and keep you clinging on for more. Goulding continued her show with the title track from Halycon and then current single, the dubstep ballad “Figure 8”. The smooth and seductive cover “Hanging On” trailed, originally recorded by electronic musician, Active Child. She continued the show with a stripped down, acoustic version of “Guns and Horses”, which she played on the guitar, a favorite from her debut album. Many on this continent were first exposed to Goulding as part of the 2011’s Royal Wedding.  At the wedding Ellie Goulding performed her gentle take on Elton John’s classic “Your Song”. Goulding strips “Your Song” down to make it a tender and emotional ballad.

Goulding slowly brought back the beat with electropop anthem “Under The Sheets”, igniting a dance party with many of Goulding’s young fans singing along to every word. From there, Goulding launched into her most recent single “Anything Could Happen”. This song gained some recent notoriety due to a cover version on the most recent season of X-Factor. The floor-filler “Animal” followed, which could easily pass as a mainstream EDM (electronic dance music) mainstay. Goulding finished up the performance with “Starry-Eyed”, the Calvin Harris produced club banger “I Need Your Love” and concluded with her claim to fame, the inescapable “Lights”. During “Lights”, she transitioned into the immensely popular Bassnectar remix halfway through.

Though Goulding’s vocals aren’t as strong as some of her contemporaries, her distinct voice and delivery are certainly part of her allure. Goulding’s current problem in the US is that her electro-pop is too alternative for Pop radio, and too poppy for Alternative radio. Assuming that Goulding can secure a radio presence from this album, we’re pretty likely to see a long and promising career. Goulding had some of the most camera-happy fans that I’ve ever experienced. Much of the crowd was annoyingly snatching non-stop pictures via phones and cameras the entire time that Goulding was on stage.

Opening support was handled by band-to-watch, St. Lucia, who wowed the crowd with their explosive new-wave inspired electro rock. It seemed like much of the audience was getting their first exposure to the band and St. Lucia genuinely impressed. Formed in 2012, their brand of rock is similar to M83 and Cut Copy and it seems like they will gain a quick footing in the US. Goulding really couldn’t have had a better band handle the opening duties for the tour. St. Lucia seem to be working the touring and festival circuit this summer with an appearance on New York Cities impressive Governors Ball Festival line-up. Their debut album will be released later this year.