Ellie Goulding Strips Down 'Lights,' Delivers Hit-Filled Set at Coachella

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella

Ellie Goulding performs onstage during day 1 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2016 in Indio, Calif.

Ellie Goulding is on the verge of headlining America’s biggest music festivals. The British star made a giant step toward that goal by performing the next-to-last set on Coachella’s main stage Friday night (April 15). 

Goulding took the stage at 9:20 p.m., following the electronic drama of M83, and preluding LCD Soundsystem’s looming headlining set. But what LCD promised with reunion tour excitement, Goulding matched with bona fide hits. Her set was jam-packed with songs that spent a great deal of time in the public’s consciousness in recent years, from the EDM-laced banger “Burn” to the earnest Fifty Shades of Grey ballad “Love Me Like You Do.”

Coachella 2016 Live Blog

The most interesting wrinkle was how Goulding performed her breakthrough hit “Lights.” Rather than abiding by the album version, Goulding stripped it all the way down to just vocals and piano and delivered a poignant lullaby version around her set’s midway point. 

But Goulding’s backing band was a focal point on nearly every other track. The set emphasized her rock side, adding generous amounts of electric guitar and showing off the band’s instrumental heroics on the stage’s big screens for all to see. This was most evident on her underrated 2012 track “Figure 8.” Following a lengthy gap after “I Need Your Love,” Goulding responded to chants of “Ellie! Ellie!” with a revved-up performance featuring some of her own riffage. 

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The set opened with the intro track from her 2015 album Delirium and was followed by three more cuts from the album, so it was appropriate that Goulding brought it home with her latest mega hit. “Love Me Like You Do” closed out the set in dramatic fashion, with Goulding’s backing singers delivering the chorus’ vocal echo towards the heavens. 

Goulding’s Coachella Stage set reminded fans just how many hits she’s sung lately, and how skilled she is at carrying them out live. Will she reappear on Sunday night’s headlining set to perform tracks like “I Need Your Love” with Calvin Harris? Stay tuned.

Coachella 2016


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