Ellie Goulding's Big Finish Helped Fans Forget a Slow Start

Saving the best for last is a reward system we often employ for one reason or another. Delayed gratification can come in many forms, whether it be food (waiting until after your veggies for some flan or ice cream), fireworks (the big colorful climaxes), or sex (a different type of climax altogether.) There’s something to be said, and better yet, to be enjoyed, about waiting to the end for the big payoff.

Musicians oftentimes use this trick to ramp up the excitement during their shows. That’s why the encore is usually the best part. But what about all that came before it? That should be worthwhile as well. As one would expect from any other big name artist, on Friday night, Ellie Goulding saved the best of her material until the final third of her concert at American Airlines Arena in Miami. And it’s a damn good thing her hits are global smash successes because for the most part, they helped the crowd to forget what was a mostly vanilla show.

Goulding’s opener was a DJ. Sigh.

To be fair, that DJ – Cedric Gervais – was no slouch. He’s very famous and very popular. Still, even with Goulding’s longstanding relationship with EDM, a live act would have felt more appropriate.
Once she took the stage, it was readily apparent that Goulding is a worldwide pop star. The stage production and general setup was a vast upgrade from her first headlining tour through Florida back in 2012. Throughout the evening, the giant video screens oscillated back and forth between live shots and pre-recorded, digitally altered images of Goulding seemingly melting into rainbows, her skin a kaleidoscope of colors. Framing the stage was a pair of golden, shimmering curtains manipulated early on by her dancers, a quartet of Greek statues come to life that paraded and worshiped around the blonde goddess in platform boots at the center of it all. 
And yet, something was missing. It was all a bit underwhelming. As pretty as so much of the concert was, the better part of the show was, for lack of a better word, boring. 

It wasn’t for lack trying. These days Goulding participates in a number of dance routines, and she’s got plenty of rhythm. In fact, there were a few hip movements and leg kicks that would’ve been right at home in a merengue or salsa club. Soon after, she rushed to the rear of the stage and beat on giant drums in sync with her band, a precursor to the potential energy begging to be released.

The slow start picked up some pace with “Something in the Way You Move,” one of the shinier numbers from her platinum-selling third LP, Delirium. The Calvin Harris collaboration, “Outside,” lifted fans from their seats (the crowd remained seated for the first half of the show.) After a lovely acoustic rendition of “Devotion,” things got a bit sexier and more Miami. so to speak, with a laser-fueled set that brought out the hunks once more and the exuberant “Keep on Dancin'.”

However, it wasn’t until Goulding performed a beautiful piano- and drum-led version of “Lights,” a song she wrote for her best friend who’s always there for her when the “shit hit the fan,” that the apex was in sight. Indeed, her next song set off a wave of enthusiasm that invigorated the audience for the remainder of the night. 
“Army” is the type of song that can’t help but inspire, with its grand, soaring affections and catchy songbird chorus. Perhaps it was inevitable that it would be the turning point in the show. Goulding let loose, her voice sounding as gorgeous as she looked; it felt honest and raw. By the time she and her band launched into “Figure 8,” Goulding had gone through her third costume change. She sported a black leather jacket to accompany the matching black electric guitar slung around her shoulder, looking like the sparkliest member of the Hell’s Angels.

The jaunty “On My Mind” and mall-pop of “Don’t Panic” followed before giving way to a pair of massively popular hits: “I Need Your Love” and “Burn,” during the latter of which she urged fans to keep their phones away. “This is better seen through your eyeballs,” she said. 

And she’s not wrong. Once the encore of “Anything Could Happen” and “Love Me Like You Do” were over and the confetti had been blasted out of the tubes, much of the potential hinted at an hour before was fulfilled. It took a while, but the ultimate satisfaction, however deferred, was worth the wait. 
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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you.
Contact: Angel Melendez