A Night of Symphonic Splendor with Ellie Goulding at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Review: Ellie Goulding with Orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall 11/22/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- Ellie Goulding’s orchestral adventure at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, in collaboration with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, was less a concert and more a revelation. For an artist synonymous with dance anthems such as “Lights,” “Anything Could Happen,” and the Max Martin-produced “Love Me Like You Do,” the evening promised—and delivered—a symphonic reimagining of her catalog that unveiled the depth and artistry often overshadowed by pop production.
From the outset, Goulding’s penchant for orchestral gravitas, hinted at in her multi-layered album “Halcyon,” was fully realized in this setting. The show, split into two acts, commenced with a stirring rendition of “Burn.” This was Goulding not just covering her tracks but reinterpreting them, as if the strings and brass were always meant to be there, hidden within the digital beats.
Goulding’s voice, a distinct soprano that has often flirted with ethereal heights, found its home amid the lush orchestration. Tracks like “New Heights” and “Flux,” already anchored by string arrangements, were transformed into grandiose epics. The waltz rhythms of these songs, a time signature that prompts an involuntary sway, became evident as Goulding swayed with them, her voice the guiding light through the dance.
“I Know You Care,” a poignant ode to her father, resonated with newfound poignancy. The honesty in her delivery, coupled with the orchestra’s emotive backing, created a space for reflection within the hall’s storied walls. The intimacy was amplified by Goulding’s unfiltered moments—whether joking about not yet being comfortable enough to perform barefoot or candidly admitting to getting lost in the beauty of the music, missing her cue on “Explosions.”
Her introduction to “Woman” was not just a prelude to a song but a narrative of personal growth. Here was Goulding, more than a decade into an illustrious career, claiming her identity and her evolution—not just through words but through a physical embodiment of the song’s essence.
The second act retained the evening’s charm. “Close To Me” lost none of its infectious allure sans Swae Lee, while “My Blood” and “Still Falling For You” showcased the expansive dynamic range that only an orchestra can offer. The former sounded particularly mesmerizing, a testament to the arrangement’s ability to elevate pop to high art.
“Dead in the Water,” a deep cut from “Halcyon,” emerged as a highlight, with Goulding sharing its carefree backstory, lending the performance an air of nostalgia and cherished memory. Her remark, “That song’s been hiding away for so long,” felt like an acknowledgment of the evening’s theme: the uncovering of hidden facets within her music.
The evening was not without its surprises. Her cover of “Vincent” may not have won over every heart, but the attempt spoke to Goulding’s artistic courage. And while she may (or may not) have missed an entrance, it only served to humanize an artist who stands on a pedestal for many in my eyes.
Goulding closed the regular set with “Miracle,” a newer addition to her repertoire, before returning for an encore that included the omnipresent “Love Me Like You Do.” The latter, stripped of its original synth-driven urgency, was reborn as a timeless classic, further cementing Goulding’s status as an artist of versatility and depth.
Ellie Goulding’s performance was a masterclass in musical recontextualization. Between the natural banter that bridged the songs, the careful curation of the setlist, and the sheer scale of the orchestral arrangements, Goulding offered more than a concert; she provided an experience. It was an evening that redefined not only her music but also the very concept of a pop concert, challenging and delighting the senses in equal measure.
This was Goulding coming full circle, from the electronic-infused beginnings to a grand orchestral milieu, affirming her evolution as an artist. It’s a reminder that beneath the produced sheen of pop hits lies a core of musicality waiting to be explored. In that grand hall, with each note and nuance, Ellie Goulding did not just perform; she captivated, she enchanted, she triumphed.Follow Ellie Goulding on Facebook, Instagram and X.
Taking photos and video phones is highly frowned upon at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The fan videos are from similar orchestra accompanied performances on this brief tour at other venues.