Ellie Goulding Is Fit, Lit and Ready To Hit It Big
Ellie Goulding Opening for Katy Perry XL Center, Hartford, CT November 15, 2011
Review & Photos by Jeremy Spencer
If Katy Perry was my girlfriend (I can dream), then Ellie Goulding would be her hot friend she introduces me to (still dreaming) and I find myself hopelessly attracted to her powerful persona and raw sexuality. Sure, I'm still hot for Katy, but this new girl ...
That's how it was when Goulding took the stage at the XL Center in Hartford to open for the pop queen and showed that she's ready for her own stardom. Maybe I'm late to the party: Ellie is already a star in her native Britain, with 2010's fastest-selling debut album and four hit singles in the UK and she performed at Prince William's wedding last Summer. Now that's a good gig. She's just breaking out here in America with a major record deal (Polydor) and a hot single, "Lights." This was the first night of five where she opened for the final leg of Perry's massive, globe-trotting Teenage Dreams Tour and Goulding showed she's ready to seize the opportunity.
Goulding opened with fan favorite "Under The Sheets." I got the feeling that she and Perry are musical soul sisters and Ellie's hard rocking edge is just a different direction than Perry's pop and showbiz schtick. When Katy later sang her acid-edged "Circle The Drain," a ditty about not standing by while her lover wants to destroy himself, it sounded like a lot of Ellie's set, driving hard musically and hitting deep emotionally. Opening for any mega-star is tough but Goulding definitely belonged in the same room as Perry.
The 25-year-old platinum blonde goddess looked athletic and super-fit in a snug, sexy black halter top with buckles and black shorts with silvery rivets and sporting a huge necklace. Goulding is an avid runner, training for a marathon, and it shows in her appearance, energy and stamina.
Kudos to Perry for having the confidence to let this up-and-coming female open for her. Three words came to my mind immediately: She f**king rocks!
"Human" was just flat-out exciting, "Guns And Horses," just stunning. Maybe this is just the music I like and seeing a hot chick perform it makes it even better. Who cares? Her music is my heartbeat. In between songs, her sweet personality came through and on the acoustic "Your Biggest Mistake" where she also played guitar, she showed off her love of organic music, citing Allison Krauss and Joni Mitchell as two favorites in her official biography on her web site.
With a pounding, driving beat that's part rock, part techno, her three-piece backup band of Chris Ketley on keyboards and bass, Maxwell Cooke on keyboards and Joe Clegg on drums capably fills the sonic space of twice that many players. Goulding jumped in on her own stand-up snare drums to provide a tribal feel to the primal "Salt Skin."
She showed a more tender texture in her cover of Elton John's classic ballad, "Your Song," and a deeper range and scope with "The Writer," with its rousing chorus and lyrics that indicate a real maturity.
Then it was back to what Ellie does best: kicking ass. Not in a punked-out chick rocker way, or as a contrived persona as a Britney or Katy but as a genuine, flesh-and-blood Lady Who Likes To Rock. The techno-ey, dancable "Lights" should be a smash and "Animal" was another example of perfect precision.
She closed her remarkable set with "Starry Eyed," another pounding pop/rock song. She left the stage graciously, closing a perfect warm-up set that was respectful to the headliner but one that should leave Perry looking cautiously over her shoulder.