The atmosphere in the O2 Southampton Guildhall was positively electric as we waited for Ellie Goulding to take to the stage as part of her Halcyon Days tour.
But first, her support act Lulu James was on hand to get the restless crowd warmed up for the ‘Starry Eyed’ singer. Appearing in a hooded cape, leotard, and not much else, James proved that she was in fact as much of a vocal powerhouse as the night’s main attraction. Playing songs such as ‘Step by Step’ and getting a mass sing-a-long going with her next single, ‘Sweetest Thing’, James seemed to have a stage presence comparable to Florence Welch or Shingai Shoniwa from The Noisettes, but with a funk twist.
After a brief break, and a lightning storm, Goulding arrived and was greeted by tremendous applause. Beginning with ‘Figure 8’, she enchanted the crowd and got the gig off to a flying start. This was followed up by a few more tracks from Halcyon Days, including ‘Goodness Gracious’, which didn’t quite get the reception that Goulding had anticipated, despite her asking the audience to dance just before it.
This minor lull was swiftly recovered by Goulding returning to a track which everyone in the audience was familiar with. ‘Starry Eyed’ had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs from start to finish, and it was clear that even the parents tagging along got carried away by the euphoric atmosphere. Although that may also have been due to Goulding’s dancing, and this had no shortage of the thrusting and winding that a friend had seen at her Edinburgh show earlier in the week.
At this point, Goulding decided to slow things down. Shedding her jacket, and grabbing a guitar, the stripped-back version of ‘Guns and Horses’ was sublime, even eliciting tears from some audience members. ‘I Know You Care’ continued this slightly sombre vein, as she explained the song’s origins, and its relation to her father.
Upon returning to the more upbeat tracks from the Halcyon album, such as ‘Explosions’ and ‘Anything Could Happen’, there was a clear lift in the audience’s spirits, and Goulding relayed a short anecdote about Christmas dinner alongside her last Guildhall performance; which felt a bit like she was musing out loud rather than trying to get us engaged in the story.
After this aside, the show rounded off with one of Goulding’s first hits, ‘Lights’. This seemed particularly fitting, as throughout the evening, we were treated to a captivating energy from Goulding, which distracted from the lights and effects that were constantly in the background. The encore, which included Goulding’s first number one single, ‘Burn’, also had the crowd jumping so much that the Guildhall seemed to be pulsing with energy.
Having left with a breathless crowd, and with the sound of drums still echoing in my head, I’m sure that after that performance I won’t be the only one who can’t wait to see what Goulding will do next.