Ellie Goulding - Wolverhampton Civic Hall
She's riding high on the crest of a pop single double-whammy aided by Calvin Harris and Greg Kurstin so she will hardly care, but pop poppet Ellie Goulding has always presented something of a dilemma for me. Sure, she has an interesting voice and her 2010 debut promised sparkly-prism pop with 'Starry Eyed'; but, on a particular day, her voice might grate a little and it soon became apparent that the glow of Lights' singles were an empty promise. However, with Halcyon (and its shiny updated edition/cash-in, Halcyon Days), Goulding has fulfilled some of that initial promise by doing away with the folkier elements and strengthening her electronic leanings. It's done her good in the charts but has it super-charged her live show?
Having caught her filler-full show at Glastonbury 2010, I'm happy to report that she is in her element for her Wolves Civic appearance. A backdrop of crackling lightning announces Ellie's presence, and we're soon off to the races with one of Halcyon's most muscular dance moments, 'Figure 8'. It's a fine start, Goulding backed by a tight band and her voice stronger than expected whilst retaining the quirky character that fans worldwide have embraced; unfortunately, there follows a stretch of the expanded album's new tracks that only the diehards will have heard, meaning this initial burst of energy is quelled somewhat.
Around a third of the way in, 'Starry Eyed' drops and then an acoustic rendering of 'Guns & Horses'. It's telling that only two of the original Lights tracks get an airing, suggesting Goulding is more confident of her new sound. The middle section showcases Halcyon's more downbeat, ambient moments which have been overshadowed by the album's bolder dance tracks. However, the likes of 'Joy' and 'Explosions' shine even more in a live setting than they do on record, and sound even better next to an inevitable performance of the saccharine sweet 'Your Song' cover that helped Ellie in her rise to fame.
The pace picks up during the set's home run, which begins with the beguiling but brilliant 'Only You' which suggests a tougher and more idiosyncratic route Goulding could go down with her dance sound. Then it's time for 'Anything Could Happen', which still sounds fresh and unites both the young and old in attendance for a dance and sing-along, before 'I Need Your Love' and Goulding's UK #1 'Burn' wrap the show up in a triumphant display of fire and feet-shuffling. So, slow to simmer but she won me round in the end.