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Ellie Goulding has a voice strong enough to stand entirely on its own. It’s distinct and full, and with it she scales to heights even a world-class mountain climber might envy. But the voice is only part of the British singer’s superstar success — it’s a component, but her signature sound comes when she couples those ranging vocals with multi-layered electronic instrumentation to dispense a dance music euphoria that moves the hearts and feet of fans worldwide. Wednesday night at Boston’s TD Garden, Goulding sampled from that same formula of mixing traditional musical chops with modern-day technological wizardry in her live show, which saw the singer belting out her innumerable hits from a stage that featured an impressive electronic display of geometric lights, diverse and diverting getups, and heavy dancing action.
Playing in front of a crowd thick with devotees, Goulding led off with “Aftertaste,” the first offering from 2015’s “Delirium” album, which was featured heavily in the set. She had no shortage of chart-toppers from which to draw, including the upbeat “Something In The Way You Move,” the BFFL-anthem “Army,” the resolute “Keep On Dancin’,” the ode to communicative frustration “Codes,” and perhaps her best-known hits: “Lights,” which she sang in stripped-down fashion, and her two encore closers; “Anything Can Happen,” and “Love Me Like You Do,” both of which sent the crowd home in a…delirium.
[RELATED: check out more exciting live coverage from Performer Magazine.]
Goulding’s voice so comfortably fills out even an arena that in her live performance she seemed primarily concerned by presence, going tête-à-tête with her quartet of impressively athletic dancers and sharing songwriting anecdotes with the crowd. Goulding herself might not be the most gifted dancer (a fair comparison could probably be made to the rhythmic strutting of Drake), but she’s a committed one, giving license to her audiences to follow suit. It was clear from the show that Goulding is an inspirational figure to many of her young fans, and clearer still how greatly their faith mattered to her. She took a few moments to salute and share in the resolve of those that have faced undue hardship for the people they love, and bared her heart to a degree that might embolden others to do the same.
Like any good pop star, she also made some requisite and choice wardrobe changes. Costumes included a rocker’s black studded leather coat, a long white gown, an amazing, technicolor dream shawl, and a sequin catsuit which she noted was as discomforting as it was impressing. But perhaps her most telling outfit was the spandex-like, multi-colored bodysuit she adopted mid-set. Black with standout pink and teal trimmings, it wasn’t how it looked on her body that impressed — it was how it projected on the big screen, where it came to life with lingering visual trails and heightening special effects. The ensemble didn’t supersede her vocal performance, it heightened it, giving shape to the sound she so successfully trades in. And it was only right. Why wouldn’t Ellie Goulding project onscreen like an EDM superhero?