Despite the success of Adele and Florence + the Machine, it’s a little early to proclaim a new feminine-powered British Invasion.
In the case of English singer Ellie Goulding, who performed to a sold-out crowd on Thursday at Hard Rock Live, the allure of the music hasn’t yet yielded an Adele-like stateside explosion.
In an energetic, if not musically ambitious 90 minutes, Goulding showed glimpses of originality that could lift her out of a beat-driven formula that might not sustain her career beyond the curiosity phase.
The title of her latest album, “Halcyon,” too often is a suitable description of her sound. There was a tranquil sheen to the introductory interlude to the opening “Don’t Say a Word,” although the song was immediately swept away by a throbbing dance rhythm.
In the early going, the music was too heavy on mood and too light on substance. You weren’t likely to leave humming any of these songs in your head.
Goulding’s voice sounded muddy in a sound mix that favored the drums and keyboards. When she chatted between songs, it was often impossible to decipher what she was saying on the fringes of the packed floor.
On “Figure 8,” as well other uptempo songs, she leaned impressively into the muscular chorus, one of the welcome forays into catchy pop fare. “Salt Skin” was another song that featured an appealing chorus.
At another point, Goulding downshifted into an acoustic interlude that better showcased the expressive potential of her voice on “Guns and Horses.” Whatever she did – whether singing, jumping up and down or tossing her golden hair – the devoted fans went wild with little provocation.
The crowd was also attentive to Brooklyn-based electro-pop outfit St. Lucia, which opened the show with its own propulsive 40-minute set. Songs such as “Closer Than This” and “We Got It Wrong” dovetailed nicely with the headliner’s higher-energy material.
The dance-oriented stuff dominated Goulding’s finale, a stretch that included the exuberant “Only You,” “Under the Sheets,” the shimmering pop of “Anything Could Happen” and an oddly placed cover of Elton John’s “Your Song.”
It’s unclear whether Goulding’s material will be around for decades, like that classic, but on this night it was built to last.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times