(For the full post with pictures by RCA photographer and founder Kelly Mason, visit Rain City Ambience!)
It’s not a well-kept secret amongst the RCA family that I am head over heels for Ellie Goulding. I bought my ticket about a second after they went on presale, and I flipped OUT when I heard that Amanda and Kelly would be covering the show with me. I’ll restrict my gushing to an unbiased, fair opinion. Promise.
Every concert I’ve been to in 2014 so far has sold out, and The Paramount Theater is the latest and largest in the string of sold out shows. Standing in line two hours before doors last Wednesday paid off when I rolled right up to the photographer’s pit, a spot I fought (successfully) to keep most of the night. This put me about five feet from the stage, and hardly six or seven feet from the artists when they walked over to our side.
Los Angeles up-and-comer Conway (@conwaymusic) opened the night, the promising project of accomplished songwriter Kassia Conway paving the way for a great show. Hand-picked by Ellie for this US tour, Conway’s intense stage presence perfectly matched her gutsy, punchy sound.
Backed by Paul Waxman on guitar, Patrick Taylor on bass, and Amy Wood on the kit, all eyes were glued to Kassia as the band pounded song after song off her brand new EP, ‘Big Talk’. Keep an eye out for Amanda’s post-set interview with Kassia Conway herself!
The night progressed with an impressive punctuality, and before long, Ellie Goulding (@elliegoulding) and her full band blasted onto the stage with ‘Halcyon’ hit Figure 8. Ellie brought along a small army for her backing band: singers Zalika King, Adetoun Anibi, and Lai Shin-Aba, keyboardist Jihea Oh, bassist/keyboardist Simon Francis, guitarist/pianist Chris Ketley, and drummer Joe Clegg, a matched set of ace musicians to showcase the magnetic stage presence of the night’s heroine.
Ellie danced, spun, and drummed her way through a massive list of diverse songs, and effortlessly enthralled the 2,000+ fans that filled the beautiful old theater along the way. From smoky lows to the chirrupy highs of her impressive extended range, Ellie’s vocals were exactly on point, and revealed the starlet to be a delightfully expressive live singer. Confident, bold, and unbelievably adorable (the words of a gal next to me), Ellie took the theater by storm.
After a driving handful of opening songs, the band backed out for a few stripped down favorites, including covers of Elton John‘s Your Song and alt-J‘s Tesselate, and a gorgeous acoustic rendition of Guns And Horses to showcase Ellie’s remarkable fretwork.
Songs like The Writer, Explosions, and Salt Skin gradually cranked the intensity back up, and Ellie hit full speed again with a gigantic performance of Only You. Special favorite was Ellie’s leading contribution to blockbuster hit Divergent, the brand new Beating Heart.
The band closed off the first set with hit single Anything Could Happen, Platinum selling Calvin Harris collab I Need Your Love, and finally, breakout single Lights.
(Do NOT even get me started on this music video. Calvin who?)
After what felt like a lifetime, Ellie returned to the stage with her band for a two-song finale: You My Everything and Burn, the single that has rocketed Ellie to astronomic heights in 2014. Choice clips from the fiery music video framed the stage as the band leveled the crowd with the last song of the night.
It’s uncommon to find an artist as sweet, honest, and talented as Ellie is, comfortably excelling onstage as much as in-studio. Fewer artists are able to pull off a live experience that is as ambitious as it is accessible, and rarer still are those who inspire talent rather than deter it. Some of the other writers may disagree with me, but as far as I’m concerned, Ellie Goulding is the undisputed queen of electro-pop. Long live the queen.