It took about three songs during Ellie Goulding’s sold-out show at Echo Stage on Sunday before the crowd fell into a trance, dazzled by her signature upbeat, electronic dance songs and impressive light effects.
By the time she began her third song, “Goodness Gracious,” the audience was singing along to every word and every arm was bouncing in the air. Goulding conducted her congregation like a hypnotic preacher, and every body roll and punchy drum solo she performed led to crazed roars from Goulding’s evangelists.
“Who here is shy?” Goulding asked the audience. “Tonight, you’re allowed to go crazy,” she instructed, and people obeyed.
Her performance was nothing short of spiritual. She opened with a powerful rendition of her single “Figure 8,” resembling a genie on stage as she bellydanced in billowy pants, a bustier top and a sparkly bindi that brought attention to her long, golden mane.
Halfway through the set, the pace changed from electric to haunting when Goulding traded her band for an acoustic guitar. During a somber rendition of “Guns and Horses,” the fans took over singing the chorus while Goulding accompanied on guitar.
Goulding applauded the D.C. audience for their enthusiasm during the show.
“I’m pretty shy, so when the audience is shy, I’m even more shy,” she said.
The British singer-songwriter made her audience laugh when she announced that her “trousers” were falling apart and she needed to buy more expensive clothes.
The song that was greeted with the most applause was her rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song,” which reached No. 2. in British charts back in 2010 and she also performed at the Buckingham Palace wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
Goulding also incorporated a remixed version of MIA’s “Bad Girls” as the background of a thrilling drum solo, which then transitioned to “Salt Skin,” a melody from Goulding’s first album.
The climax of the evening was Goulding’s last five songs. From “Anything Could Happen” to “I Need Your Love” and “Lights,” the energy in the room was at an all-time high and her un-choreographed outbursts of dance reflected the energy of each song.
Fans chanted Ellie’s name for an encore performance that ended with a fiery rendition of “Burn.”
Goulding proved that she is not a singer, but a rock star.
The audience was surprised at the beginning of the evening when a petite, blonde woman got onto the stage, who turned out not to be Goulding. Conway, the unannounced opener, was greeted by maniacal cheering that quickly turning to silence after the crowd realized that this is not who they were at Echostage to see.
Conway looked and sounded like Gwen Stefani, with her platinum blonde hair, toned arms and deep voice. Her songs were full of angst and musical grunts. The audience was relieved when her half-hour set was over.