It’s a bleak November, London evening in Islington – but Billie Eilish has made it feel like the centre of the universe. We shouldn’t be surprised, mind. When NME caught her in New York a couple weeks prior, that night at legendary venue Baby’s All Right felt exactly the same. At just 15, the rising pop star has the gravitas and cultural pull of a star far bigger already.
Its only her second show on these shores but is in no shape poised to be her biggest. Fans have been queuing outside of o2 Islington Academy since mid-afternoon, skipping school for what many have said is their first ever gig. And what an introduction it is for them.
Striding on stage in a ski jacket and sunglasses to The Office US theme tune, for some reason, Eilish arrives to screams usually reserved only for the likes of stars filling arenas far larger than this. She plays it cool, and launches into ‘Copycat’ – bouncing around to the song’s trappy beat. The fans, obviously, go wild.
Versions of ‘idontwanttobeyouanymore’ and ‘Watch’ are similarly weighty – though Eilish showcases her more emotional side on a vulnerable cover of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ and her own ‘Party Favour’. Brother and bandmate Finneas takes the centre stage briefly for a song of his own – but it’s when the siblings pour everything into Billie’s material that things truly click.
‘Ocean Eyes’ provides a momentous main set closer, and the thrilling ‘Bellyache’ finishes it all off with killer knockout punch. Wherever Billie goes next, the world will be watching and drawn to her hypnotic live shows. And to be honest, she seems to be well up for whatever comes next.