By John Curley
The English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding made her New York City concert debut on Thursday, September 30th with a very well-received show at the Hiro Ballroom in Chelsea. The 23-year-old Goulding played a 65- minute, 13-song set consisting mostly of originals with covers of songs by Midlake and Temper Trap. The Hiro Ballroom, which is an interesting venue that is part of the Maritime Hotel and is decorated in Japanese style, was packed for the show. And the crowd was solidly behind Goulding from the moment that she walked onstage.
Goulding’s debut album, Lights, which was released in March in the UK, has not come out in America yet. But there is a four-song EP titled An Introduction To Ellie Goulding that is available on iTunes. Despite the fact that the album is not out in America yet, the crowd seemed to be familiar with all of Goulding’s songs. Goulding seemed amused by the raucous nature of the crowd. She appeared to be puzzled (and a little hurt) when the crowd booed when she mentioned that she had played in Los Angeles earlier in the week, apparently not knowing about the rivalry between the Big Apple and the City of Angels. But she did say that the New York City crowd was one of the best audiences that she had ever played for. The crowd was buzzing for the whole show but went nuts when “Guns And Horses,” “The Writer,” and “Starry Eyed” were played. (All of those songs are on the EP.)
Goulding’s live show has more of a rock sound than I had anticipated, given the introspective nature of some of her songs. She played guitar throughout the set and was backed by a bassist, drummer, and keyboardist. For an artist making her New York City debut, Goulding seemed quite confident. She talked to and joked with the crowd between songs. It was a real privilege to get to see Goulding perform in such an intimate venue. Her star is clearly on the rise. While Goulding’s American stop only featured the Los Angeles and New York City dates, these shows were intended for Goulding to get some press in America. She is a fantastic lyric writer and seems to be an artist with staying power. I’m sure that her next visit to our shores will be more substantial and will take place in larger venues.
While Goulding’s performance was a memorable one, the same can’t be said for the opening act, Penguin Prison. A project of musician Chris Glover, Penguin Prison plays 1980s style synth pop. The majority of the crowd seemed to enjoy Penguin Prison’s performance, but I didn’t share in their enthusiasm. I thought that Penguin Prison were dreadful, one of the worst live acts that I’ve ever seen. But that was the only down note on what was an otherwise a great night of music in New York City.
Ellie Goulding’s set at New York City’s Hiro Ballroom on Thursday, September 30th was as follows:
Every Time You Go
This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)
Guns And Horses
Roscoe [cover of song by Midlake]
Your Biggest Mistake
Sweet Disposition [cover of song by Temper Trap]
I’ll Hold My Breath
Under The Sheets
Wish I Stayed