Review: Ellie Goulding at the Ogden, 8/8/11

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On her second North American tour in less than a year, Ellie Goulding filled the Ogden Theatre last night, but at a price: The opening act, Bag Raiders (scheduled to play a one-off at Larimer Lounge this Friday), weren't quite as captivating, but the predominantly female crowd stood at full attention for the short concert.

Goulding, whose recent album, Lights, has made her one of the buzzed-about artists out right now, has been hitting the road hard. Her Denver stop fell in between festival dates at Lollapalooza and Outside Lands in San Francisco, where she's slated to perform later this week -- if her vocal cords can heal by then.

Last night, things may not have gone quite as planned for the U.K. singer. The set started off nicely with "Under the Sheets," a song that has been remixed heavily but still holds its weight as a single with just Goulding singing. The chorus, much like last time, had everyone singing along word for word, with Goulding utilizing her breathy harmonization that she lays over her vocal tracks in the live set. "This Love" followed, another sing-along showcasing the range of Goulding's voice -- well, if only the crowd hadn't been singing so loud. Since Goulding's last stop in Colorado, her popularity has clearly soared. "This Love" had everyone standing and swaying in unison, cell-phone cameras focused on center stage. Unfortunately, after she made her way through "Guns and Horses" and her cover of Elton John's "Your Song," Goulding's voice cracked and began to show fatigue. Noticeably. It was devastating to witness, but Goulding made every attempt possible to power through it. She tried to make up for certain portions with her acoustic guitar, but noticeable vocal passes made it difficult to really get into her set. The crowd tried to take over at times, specifically on her third song, "Every Time You Go," which has perfect sections of "Oh oh oh oh oh" and gave the audience a chance to join in. During "The Writer," it became clear that hitting certain high notes just wasn't in the cards for the evening. Goulding apologized profusely, but it wasn't enough to keep the energy flowing as her presence did in the beginning of the show. Occasional mid-song coughs and subtle passes on certain notes made it almost painful to watch. The final stretch of songs to close out the night included "Lights" and "Starry Eyed," both of which had the crowd pitching in on vocals before Goulding thanked everyone and exited the stage in tears. It was devastating to watch and even more somber given the theme of the final songs.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Since seeing Goulding live in Boulder last year, I have done nothing but anticipate her return. Random Detail:There were a lot of men in the crowd, much more so than last time. By The Way: "Lights," "Starry Eyed" and "Under the Sheets" were all remixed and sung more up-tempo than the studio cuts. These are also some of the top remixed songs by artists like Russ Chimes, Bassnectar and Jakwob.

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