I am usually willing to see a new artist in concert even though I may be more familiar with their name than their music. These days thanks to Spotify, I can first sample their completed works without even having to open my wallet. Such was the case recently for the Ryman show by British electronic pop diva Ellie Goulding. I liked enough of what I had heard to pay for another visit to my favorite music venue.
Last summer, I was my son’s guest at the Electric Zoo music festival in New York City. There we saw as headliner the reigning king of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) Skrillex who was once in a relationship with Goulding. Skrillex gives forth a total techno onslaught of sights and sounds without a melody in site. Ms. Goulding, in contrast, writes and sings in a pop sensibility over her band’s electronic-based sound that reminds me more of Madonna than her old boyfriend. With Skrillex, his seemingly repetitious noise had me looking for the door after ten minutes. But, Goulding’s ninety-minute set held my interest despite a handful of numbers that got caught in some tiring monotony.
The night began with a sharp opening set by locals Wild Cub who thanked Goulding for hand-picking them to open that night’s show. While I am sure it keeps the touring budget down, it is a nice touch for a touring artist to give an up and coming band the chance to get better known in their home town.
Ellie Goulding is a captivating performer who sports a striking image. Her bright flowing blond hair sharply contrasted her all-black garb which included some boots that she may have found in Elton John’s closet. Goulding powered the show’s momentum playing some mean beats of her own pounding on a small stand-up drum kit. Visually, her Madonna-like moves included a vertical leap worthy of any NBA point guard.
The song that best typified what I liked most about her set was “Anything Could Happen,” a nice little pop ditty with a catchy melody and refrain. Otherwise, there were times when I thought Goulding’s work fell short when her lyrics were obscure and sounded muddled. Not a problem to most of her hard core fans in the crowd who seemed to know every word of every song. Her cover of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s classic “Your Song” fell short for me. It sounded too stiff and choppy and had me waiting for her to fall into the melody of the chorus which never happened.
Her fans for the most part were exuberant young women who stood on their feet the entire night. At one point early on, fans started to make their way to stand up in front of the stage filling the aisles. Goulding proceeded to encourage this activity, so they could “share the love.” The Ryman ushers eventually got around to checking tickets and sending everyone back to the pews. Goulding then spoke against this “distraction,” and the crowd came back for a second time only to be cleared out again. While she was only mildly disrespectful to the ushers, didn’t she know that they were just doing their job required by the fire codes?
Golding put on an entertaining show that made my evening out worthwhile. And judging by the ovations she received, it won’t be long before this pop star makes a return Nashville engagement.
- Don’t Say a Word
- Figure 8
- Salt Skin
- Hanging On
- Guns And Horses
- I Know You Care
- Your Song (Elton John cover)
- My Blood
- Only You
- Under The Sheets
- Anything Could Happen
- Without Your Love
- Starry Eyed
- I Need Your Love (Calvin Harris collaboration)
- Lights (with Bassnectar remix)
Ellie Goulding – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar and Drum Kit
Joe Clegg – Drums
Chris Ketley – Guitar and Keys
Maxwell Cooke – Synth
Simon Francis – Bass