When I first heard “Like all the boys before. Like all the boys, boys, boys, boys,” come out of Ellie Goulding‘s mouth on “Under the Sheets” last Spring I knew I had a new musical crush. Making her New York debut at Hiro Ballroom on a dark and stormy night (coincidentally the name of my drink of choice tonight), the 23-year-old English singer-songwriter dazzled a handsome crowd and beat my expectations on what I thought this promising new talent could deliver on stage. But up first, the opening act.
Penguin Prison got the crowd warmed up, led by the New York-based singer, producer, remixer Chris Glover. Best known for their superb remixes of songs by all my favorite Brits (and Aussies) — Goldfrapp, Marina and the Diamonds, Erik Hassle, Ellie Goulding and even Kylie Minogue’s latest infectious morsel, “Get Outta My Way,” these penguins marched through a cool set of songs off a series of single EPs including “Animal Animal” and “The Worse It Gets.”
After a short break between sets, Ellie stepped on stage with little flair, pomp or circumstance, just her. I love her style. She’s cute, but not too polished. She’s commercial, yet accessible. And the night would prove she’s more than just another blond pop artist. She opened with “Lights” and “Every Time You Go,” both off her debut album, also titled Lights. It’s not available in the U.S. just yet, but her sample EP, An Introduction to Ellie Goulding, is now available on U.S. iTunes. She really showcased her powerful vocals on “This Love (Will Be Your Downfall).” I caught this one on video so check it out:
Other highlights of Ellie’s New York debut included her third U.K. single, “Guns and Horses,” which was brilliantly remixed by Tonka, and an odd choice, a cover of “Roscoe” by the Texas-based rock band, Midlake. Apparently Midlake has an enormous following in Europe, and less-so in the States. Interesting. She also played “Your Biggest Mistake,” which I also caught on video (below), and one of my favorite songs off her album, “I’ll Hold My Breath.” A surprise for me was “Salt Skin,” not a favorite of mine, but it was really incredible performed live. That track deserves another listen.
In another interesting move, she covered “Sweetest Disposition” by the Aussie alt-rock band The Temper Trap. I think it’s really cool that she covers music by musicians she respects. It gives us a sneak peek into her heart and soul as an artist. There’s a great video out there of Ellie performing “Everywhere I Go” with Lissie, another American up-and-coming singer-songwriter. Ellie’s a smart girl to be showing different musical sides of herself so not to be pigeon-holed as a one-dimensional pop artist.
Toward the end of her set, she performed her fourth (and latest) single, “The Writer,” also caught on video, and “Under the Sheets,” her first single, and the song that first caught my ear back in the Spring. For her encore, she performed “Wish I Stayed,” which she wrote and produced with fellow Brit Frankmusik, and was recently covered by American shooting star, Sky Ferreira. She closed the night on a high note with her danceable breakthrough second single, “Starry Eyed.” Needless to say, my friends and I were all a little starry-eyed in the end. She is a fantastic live performer, and I have high hopes for her in the future.