The trouble with being a pop musician, is that your reputation always precedes you. Ellie Goulding has struggled of late to be more than a two trick pony. While her debut full-length had a successful run on the charts in her native England, her fame has still yet to truly take off within North America.
Hot on the heels of her second full-length album, Halcyon, Goulding and her four-piece band were in Toronto to prove that they had more up their sleeves than her pop-radio breakout, Lights.
Although it was apparent early on that a lot of the crowd wasn’t familiar with her newer material, Goulding wasted no time showing it off. Filling the sonic spaces with pianos and cinematic strings instead of her trademark jingling synthesizers and acoustic guitar, the songs seemed to be an ideal middle ground between fans who expected for radio hits, and those who discovered her through her beautiful cover of “Your Song” by Elton John.
Ellie Goulding’s live set is where her roots as a singer-songwriter really shine. Her stage mannerisms err on the side of Jagger over Aguilara, and for those skeptical of her musicianship, a mid-set departure from the brooding tribal sounds of Halcyon to a fingerpicked rendition of “Guns and Horses” should be enough to convince any naysayers.
During the set, Goulding borrowed a page from Feist’s book by adjusting early songs like “Salt Skin” to fit in with the mood of her new set. At times, the band let go of their given instruments entirely to beat a bevy of floor toms. A trick that wore thin as the set went on, but never failed to elicit cheers and applause from the packed crowd.
In an act of delayed gratification that nobody seemed to mind, Goulding saved her (and Elton’s) best for last. She worked her way towards the finale with her newest single, “Anything Could Happen” and segued into “Lights” before heading off stage. She returned in what seemed like mere moments to perform a stripped down rendition of “Your Song” before closing off with “Starry Eyed” to a huge fanfare.
It was hard not to notice the excitement of the crowd filtering out. It was a crowd far removed from the group asking what song she was playing only an hour and a half before. For the casual fan, this was a concert that should have solidified Ellie Goulding as pop star with purpose. Now it’s just a matter of time until the radio stations catch up.