Scenes From Last Night's Ellie Goulding Show at South Side Ballroom.
Despite having seemingly been around since forever — or, in this case, since her 2009 debut single “Under the Sheets” — Tuesday night's sold out show at the South Side Ballroom was, somehow, Ellie Goulding's first-ever headlining gig in Dallas.
And, judging from her polished, diverse performance and the adoring reception she received, the London pop star would do well to start making North Texas a regular part of her touring schedule.
Taking to the barn-like venue's enormous stage in front what was predominantly an early-arriving crowd, Los Angeles-based indie act Conway opened the night's festivities with a performance that was nothing if not enthusiastic. The sound mix was atrocious throughout Conway's set — something that is so common at all of the Gilley's complex venues that it’s hard to blame the artists — but she fought through it. Aesthetically and kinetically, Conway is strongly reminiscent of P!nk, when P!nk is doing her riot grrrl thing. There isn't much more that can be said here; judging her music based on what was coming out of the speakers on this night wouldn't be fair.
Luckily, the sound issues weren't as front and center for the headliner's set. Because, truly, it would've been a shame if Goulding's performance had been wasted on a venue that couldn't understand her.
But they dud, and Goulding embarked on her nearly two-hour jaunt through the breadth of her catalog, starting with “Figure 8” from last year's Halcyon LP. It was an auspicious beginning, full of the energy that would permeate the rest of the night, and showing off all that had gone into the tour's production. The full band, a trio of backup singers and a massive video and light package made it clear that this was going to be a proper pop concert from a proper pop star.
As she would for the whole of her 22-song set, Goulding showed that one can keep her credibility — there wasn't even the hint of a lean on a backing track — while still putting on a show with plenty of glitz, polish and intrigue.
There were times when her singer-songwriter sensibilities showed through — like the marvelous mid-set acoustic break that featured “Guns and Horses” from her 2010 debut LP Lights and “Beating Heart” from the soundtrack of the recently released movie Divergent — and there were times she did her best to look like a full-on rock star, as she did when picking up an electric guitar for her encore-closing “Burn.”
Rather than being abrupt, the switches in tone subtly showed off Goulding's range. They were tight and thoughtfully structured, a credit to both Goulding and her support team.
The hits were there too, with the night's final two pre-encore cuts — Halcyon's “I Need Your Love” and Lights' title track — receiving the biggest crowd reactions of the show. One might think, when it comes to “Lights” especially, that Goulding might be sick of these two songs by now. She wasn't, seemingly recognizing the songs' place in making her the bourgeoning icon that she is. As such, she led her fervent admirers in a fervent singalong, one that had been more than four years in the making.
It was worth the wait.
Photos by Mikel Galicia.