O2 Academy, Glasgow, 14/12/12
British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding gained stardom as soon as her music career began in 2009. Before her debut album Lights topped the charts, Goulding had already won the Critics’ Choice Award as the Brit Awards and the BBC Sound Of… poll in 2010, following in the footsteps of Adele who was the only other artist to achieve this. However, judging by the tour to promote her less successful second album Halcyon, the 25-year-old is struggling to emerge from the shadow cast by her slushy cover of Elton John’s Your Song which was played in living rooms throughout Britain when it featured in the 2010 John Lewis Christmas advert.
Two years later, Goulding appeared enthusiastic to re-assert herself as an edgier, fiercer musician. She kicked off the night with Don’t Say a Word and the crowd went wild she sang, “Won’t you come, just don’t say a word.” This was the first of many songs she performed from Halcyon- a more mature album compared to the lightweight electro-pop and incandescent ballads of her debut with dubstep- inflected songs and emotional, raw lyrics regarding a break-up in a relationship.
While there are ample hits- Anything Can Happen boasts spurting off-beat melodies – there are electro ballads as well. Joy is a string-laden affair which showcases Goulding’s coarse, trembling voice while I Know You Care captivates the audience as she tries to convince someone – us, herself, her lover – that they have something worth salvaging: “I know it wasn’t always wrong/But I’ve never known a winter so cold.”
However, Halcyon’s downfall is the sense that Goulding has yet to find her own identity. The magpie-like production and big, booming arrangements undermine rather than swathe her vocals.
Goulding ended with her rendition of Your Song which she famously sang at the Royal Wedding in April 2011. As expected, this produced the biggest cheer and sing-along of the night. Her last song, Starry Eyed, rounded off the night with talent, grace and a glowing stage presence. Based on her latest album, however, Goulding still has to work hard in order to re-establish herself as the kind of star she’d like to be.