IoS pop review: Ellie Goulding, Guidhall, Southampton


There are only so many chances you can give insipid female singer-songwriters

Everyone deserves a second chance. I'll never forget the moment I stood in the middle of the Reading Festival transfixed by Super Furry Animals singing "Demons", having originally dismissed them as just another bunch of lairy lad-rockers, and they subsequently became one of my favourite bands. This year, after a lifetime of loathing, I've finally learned to love mashed potato and Yorkshire pudding. Maybe it's Ellie Goulding's turn tonight.

The only person who looked more nonplussed than me by Ellie Goulding's double Sound of 2010 and Brit Awards Critics' Choice win was Ellie Goulding, as awkward and baffled by being anointed The Chosen One as Monty Python's Brian. To me, and perhaps in her heart of hearts, to Goulding herself, the girl from Offa's Dyke was little more than an indie Dido, a nice middle-class girl with nothing much to say about anything, and her insipid debut album Lights did little to dispel that impression.

But she's back with a second album, Halcyon, sporting an undercut shaved into her hair that makes her look like an Italian tourist who's come to Carnaby Street searching for the spirit of punk. If this makeover, visually at least, signifies an edgier intent, then there wasn't much evidence to be found on the album itself, which largely involved big orchestral arrangements of the sort with which Florence Welch and Beth Jeans Houghton have already prospered, as well as the odd bit of Calvin Harris-assisted dancefloor trickery.

Who knows. Maybe I wasn't listening closely enough. Maybe, in the flesh, something will suddenly click. So here she is, ending the Halcyon tour in the ever-bizarre Southampton Guildhall, an intimidatingly, inhumanly high-ceilinged Art Deco oblong with a balcony tacked at the rear like an afterthought. The budget doesn't stretch to bringing in an orchestra, so Goulding stands at the mic belting hell out of an upright drum and manipulating a small console.

Occasionally, she and her band attain a grandeur that fills the cavernous space: the dubstep climaxes and drops on "Lights" and, to a lesser extent, the mildly diverting Cher autotune on "Figure 8". Goulding the performer, however, never dominates the room. Inflecting her sentences with Aussie Upspeak and using phrases like "one lucky beeyatch", it's as though she's a random student who's turned up to see her own show and somehow been press-ganged into appearing on stage.

"Have you broken up with someone", she asks, "and it's a bit rubbish ... but a year later it's OK?" A fiery cauldron of turbulent human passions this is not. Hers is an oeuvre wherein lyrics as trite as "Baby I'm on my knees" pass unchecked and unquestioned.

If you thought Gabrielle Aplin's version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "The Power of Love" was a cultural war crime which should hasten a decade-long moratorium on the entire winsome female singer-songwriter covers genre, you were absolutely right. The blame, however, lies ultimately with Goulding. Two years before they deployed Aplin's atrocity for a Christmas ad campaign, John Lewis persuaded Ellie Goulding to give Elton John's "Your Song" the same treatment. Is she ashamed? Not a bit ... she encores with it.

I wonder what anyone is getting from this. No one appears to be having the best time ever. No one is having their mind blown. No one's favourite singer is Ellie Goulding. Not even Ellie Goulding's favourite singer is Ellie Goulding. Everyone is more bored than they want to admit.

I guess it's not the end of the world. Boring people need music too, so let them have it.

But for me? No third chances.

Critic's Choice

Snow Patrol exploit the festive potential of their name with two hometown Acoustic Christmas shows at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, today (matinee and evening). Meanwhile, Gary Barlow continues his ongoing solo tour at Hammersmith Apollo, London (Thu) and City Hall, Newcastle (Fri).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions