April 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
It would be easy to imagine Ellie Goulding’s live show as being extravagant; an excuse for the much hyped and glorified ‘folktronica’ singer to flex her ego and essentially show off. But this is incredibly far from the truth. Whilst the majority of performers receiving the amount of attention she has (winning the Brits Critics Choice Award and topping the BBC’s Sound of 2010 Poll) may find themselves swimming in a sea of self-adoration, Ellie Goulding is a humble and unpretentious individual, an attitude that comes across refreshingly and allows her incredible talent to shine through.
A select few of us in the crowd at the Club Academy were privy to this knowledge pre-show, having had the opportunity to take part in Nike’s ‘Ellie Runs’ campaign earlier in the day: we met Ellie and got to join her on a run through Manchester, a ritual she upholds in every place she visits, and is letting fans join her on in 7 cities. How many other artists would be willing to do such a thing with their fans?
The set opened with a track only included on the iTunes version of her debut album Lights, a bonus track of the same name. ‘Lights’ is an incredible song, and anyone who purchased a physical copy of the album (does anyone do that these days?) should download it. It was a great choice for an opening number; the song starts out quietly and cathartically, crescendoing into the pop/electro/folk sound that categorizes the album. This gave the crowd a brief glimpse of Ellie solo, before seeing what she can do with aid of her band. And what can she do? Quite simply, blow your mind. She proceeded to play every song from her album, with tracks such as ‘Everytime You Go’, ‘This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)’ and ‘Your Biggest Mistake’ providing the crowd with sing-along opportunities that they wholeheartedly embraced. The crowd itself was a jumble of gender and age, with die-hard fans holding banners aloft and singing along to every song, groups of friends joined in mutual adoration of Ellie’s incredible voice (and hair as someone yelled out), and older gentlemen admiring her mastery of the acoustic guitar and drumming skills (as well as swaying to tracks such as ‘The Writer’ which looked a little peculiar but was thoroughly endearing!). The diverse crowd only served to highlight Ellie’s talent, people from all age groups had braved the horrendous Manchester weather and crammed into the basement of the Academy to hear the girl from Hereford amaze us with her raspy, delicate, and yet shockingly powerful vocals.
Between songs Ellie came across as appreciative and charming, thanking fans for buying her album, explaining track meanings, and inviting us all to go jogging with her (the girl can RUN). Her comments that the room was too quiet whilst she was speaking were met by raucous yet concise cheers, not due to lack of enthusiasm but an enthralment and eagerness to know what she had to say next. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of the room were completely spellbound: those who had come with prior knowledge enjoying her brilliance; those just discovering it left astounded.
The most energetic parts of the night were found in singles ‘Under the Sheets’ and ‘Starry Eyed’, stomping tracks during which Ellie grabbed her drumsticks and beat her sparkling drum as vigorously as she attacked the microphone. Vocal samples were used to recreate the layering found in the production of Lights, but it was the live vocals that shone through, showing that no matter how good the album is, it does no justice to the range and nuances displayed in live performances. ‘Wish I Stayed’ gave the audience a chance to hear her vocals more stripped down as her band left and we saw Ellie alone with her guitar. Any doubts that fans may have had about over-production ruining Ellie’s sound surely had their faith restored by this number, a moving few minutes during which we saw her vulnerability and natural ability to mesmerize. The same was seen in a cover of Midlake’s ‘Roscoe’ which was performed stunningly, showing how easily Ellie can put her stamp on any song with her unique vocals (as she has done in the past with Bon Iver’s ‘Wolves’, Sam Sparro’s ‘Black and Gold’, and Robyn’s ‘Be Mine’), and in this case impressive guitar skills. Not to say that this was lost during the bigger numbers; ‘Salt Skin’ was performed with the band but still proved to be emotive and touching whilst showcasing Ellie’s ability to create bigger and more complexly produced numbers.
‘Starry Eyed’ closed the night with a bang, leaving everyone in the room energised and thankful that they had seen Ellie Goulding in such a small and intimate venue, something that won’t be happening much longer for a girl with her immense talent. Overall, an enchanting evening, one which proved that if you take away the production of Lights, the opinions of critics, and the stacks of publicity, you are left with Ellie’s natural talent and warmth, things that make her worthy of all the success she is destined to achieve.
January 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
Before Justin Vernon founded Bon Iver he recorded an EP under his own name called ‘Hazeltons’. This track is taken from there, and shows that long before Justin came to be a well known and hugely respected artist, he was making heavenly tunes. This one is especially epic, being 8:37 long and every second of it enjoyable. Bon Iver’s songs have always had a kind of ethereal effect on me, transporting my mind to an other-worldly place. This track does the same, and is honestly deserving of your attention. Listen below.