“What does a fan of Ellie Goulding actually look like?” I asked my fellow Observer intern as we were walking towards the uptown ampitheatre.
She shrugged. We’re not really sure.
We settled into our seats and I started looking around - had plenty of time, considering the opening act was a glorious 45 minutes late - to find what I would consider the quintessential Ellie Goulding fan.
Oh, there’s a couple wearing matching homemade T-shirts, proclaiming their love of “Ellie” in neon puff paint. Maybe it’s the two sisters and young brother whose mom brought them to the concert and danced with them. Or maybe it’s the older man dancing in the aisle like nobody’s watching. Time will tell.
When Goulding came on stage around 9 p.m., her face on a large screen surrounded by an ethereal glow, a teenage girl sitting next to us looks over at us and announces: “This is my first concert!”
I know enough of Goulding’s music to know that I do like her. Her songs have always been perfect for singing during my 150-mile trek from college to home every few weekends, so I can consider myself a casual fan. And as Goulding performed, I would grab my friend’s arm to tell her, “I didn’t know this was her song!” because it feels like I have heard her music everywhere.
But I decided pretty quickly that the quintessential Ellie Goulding fan was the sweet, grinning teenager next to us, holding her hands to her heart and belting out every single word, song after song.
If you only listen to Goulding’s music when the songs come on the radio - “Anything Could Happen,” “Something in the Way You Move,” “Lights - then you probably assume you’ll be attending a fun poppy concert with a lot of bells and whistles, a crew of backup dancers and a lot of drunk 20-year-olds. We knew the concert was going to be fun and a good way to spend a Thursday evening after work.
We definitely got all of that - but I also was blown away by Goulding’s sheer talent, the raw rasp in her voice and the sound of her voice when she thanked the crowd after every number.
Goulding is far more talented than her radio singles let on, but I had never considered it or even thought about the possibility of her possessing such a powerful voice. I’d never heard any of her acoustic tunes, but now I want to add a few to my playlist. All night, she danced, she moved around the stage, she jumped around in uncomfortable-looking leather clothes.
But she also simply sang.
Goulding brought several of her most popular songs down to just her voice and the gentle strumming of a guitar, and her performance of what she calls a real love song, “Devotion,” was my favorite number of the entire evening. I could’ve listened to it on repeat.
And she is humble; after every number, she quietly says, “Thank you” and runs back to take a drink of water, keeping her head bowed like she can’t believe this is happening.
In all, it made for a beautiful evening that I hadn’t entirely expected.
And even though none of this came as a surprise to the fan next to us, I hope her first concert was even better than she’d expected, too.