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Concert Reviews:
Ellie Goulding plays HER songs, with style, in Royal Oak

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011

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ROYAL OAK -- Most of the world, and especially the U.S., knows Ellie Goulding as the featured singer at the April wedding reception of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton.

On Tuesday night (Aug. 2) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, Goulding showed there's more to her story than that.

Across the pond, the 24-year-old Goulding's been something of a bubbling-up pop sensation since her single "Under the Sheets" -- which opened Tuesday's show -- was released in September of 2009. She's logged several hit singles, was named the BBC Sound of 2010 and won the Critic's Choice trophy at the 2010 Brit Awards, while her debut album, "Lights," hit No. 1 on the U.K. charts. America hasn't quite joined the party, but Goulding's performance showed she has every intention of changing that situation.

Goulding, sporting a black sleeveless mini-dress and a red jacket, and her three-piece band were all about the business of playing her songs during the 16-song, nearly 75-minute set. There were no dancers, no pyrotechnics, no visual ephemera -- just a straightforward rendering of nearly the entirety of "Lights" and some of the bonus tracks from the "Bright Lights" U.S. reissue. The small size of the group meant some audio enhancements -- particularly taped background vocals -- were necessary, but Goulding's decidedly live voice, a powerful, commanding and versatile instrument, more than held its own as the star of the evening.

Goulding also took a chance by putting her best-known tune -- her cover of Elton John's "Your Song" -- smack in the middle of the set. But that sent its own message, pushing the Royal Oak crowd to focus on the rest of her repertoire, from the dancey electro pop of "Every Time You Go," "Human," "Little Dreams," "Starry Eyed" and the aggressive "Animal" to more ambient fare such as "This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)," "The Winter" and "Home" and the Latin flavor of "Lights' " title track. Goulding stripped things down for an emotive solo acoustic performance of "The End" and the keyboard-only accompaniment of "Wish I Stayed" and "Your Song," while "Salt Skin" built to a blaring crescendo, with Goulding and her bandmates banging furiously on percussion.

Time will tell if Goulding ascends to the star level of an Adele or cruises at the cult-level altitude of a Robyn or a Lily Allen. On Tuesday, at least, she had every reason to be starry-eyed about that future.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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