The Roundhouse, London, September 26
For sale in the Roundhouse bar tonight is a one-night-only Ellie Goulding cocktail made with pink grapefruit, vodka and chilli. It makes a lot of sense. Ellie Goulding in 2012 is all about the 25-year-old trying to prove she’s not just the sickly pop star who sang an Elton John song at Kate and Wills’ wedding.
If there was a drink for tonight’s support, LA sister trio Haim, it would be a double JD on the rocks. Danielle, Alana and Este’s mix of soft ’70s Fleetwood Mac and ’90s R&B is fast and fun, and on a good night their gigs end with someone being sick in a rose bush. “Fuck yeah, London! We’re here now, let’s party,” shouts bassist Este, waving about her tie-dye kimono following their opening tune, a pumped version of ‘Better Off’. “Well you seem to be cheering,” she coos. “Unless you’re laughing at my tampon string hanging out!”
The most striking thing about Haim is their onstage chat, which is so… confident. So much so, it’s easy to forget the last time they played London was round the corner at Dingwalls, to a crowd of 487. Tonight they’re playing to 4,000. And really, it’s a shame they’re not playing down the road again. It’s small and enthusiastic crowds that complete their live shows, as a few hundred people holler and grind to the clipped LA harmonies of songs like ‘Go Slow’. In grander surroundings new tune ‘Falling’ – with its Coke-can hiss and an intro like Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge Of Seventeen’ – is lost among the rafters. Only ‘Forever’ really works. The flamboyant drum solo is part Dario G ‘Carnaval De Paris’, part Toto’s ‘Africa’, and the band are all hair-whipping craziness. “Save me a space down the front,” they giggle in unison. “We adore Ellie.”
And props here to the Roundhouse staff, who got the Ellie Goulding cocktail mix completely right. Hood up, like Darth Vader in a boxing ring, she punches her way through the best tracks from new album ‘Halcyon’. ‘Anything Can Happen’ is the natural successor to her 2010 single ‘Starry Eyed’, while ‘Only You’ is a stuttering, jittering stomp. They work, but the rest of her set is too full of ballads. ‘Joy’ sounds like a school choir number, and the Elton moment, ‘Your Song’, is so schmaltzy it gives couples a moment to rub themselves against each other, remembering their own special days as Ellie hits the high notes. Time to reach for the harder stuff.