English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ellie Goulding hosted a unique evening of acoustic music at West London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, sharing the stage with a host of acts from rockers Band Of Skulls to the delicate-voiced Birdy in aid of the homeless awareness charity Streets Of London.
Never one to shy away from putting her talent forward for philanthropic causes, Goulding has been a staple at Jo Wiley’s similarly-themed and aptly-named Little Noise Sessions in years past, playing quietened-down and acoustic versions of big hits in smaller environs whilst raising awareness as well as money for Mencap. Goulding also performed at the Queen Elizabeth Park over the summer during the closing concert for the first Invictus Games which saw wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans take part in competitive sports. She took it one step further this December, organising her own event featuring a number of today’s popular acts for a cause she has taken upon herself to champion.
Opening the night with two tracks from latest album Halcyon Days, Goulding made a point to let the crowd know she’d be addressing the reason she’d put the show together in due course. Explaining that the format for the night would be for each band to play two songs with a bit of herself thrown in-between, the popstress then exited the stage to make way for the next act.
Following a rendition of Explosions featuring Kwabs, she left the stage once more as Kwabs tore through his single Wrong Or Right. Ellie then returned to stage with notes in-hand to explain to the West London audience why she had felt so strongly about the increasing homelessness in London, having moved to London some years back and lived in various neighbourhoods across the city. As a keen runner, she explained how she loved to run the capital’s parks and streets and that the one thing that would stop her in her tracks would be the homeless people she would come across.
The final straw came for the 27-year-old during recent coverage of the anti-homeless spikes across London this year and she felt obligated to make herself a spokesperson for the cause, using her talent and that of her contemporaries to highlight the plight of London’s ever-increasing homeless population.
Highlights of the evening were Gabrielle Aplin’s short set which featured a replacement backing band made up of the brothers Hudson-Taylor, Band Of Skulls playing a merry acoustic rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, followed by fun song Hoochie Coochie, and Irish band Kodaline who played hit High Hopes before inviting Goulding back on stage to add vocals to track All I Want.
Relieving Ellie of her emceeing duties for parts of the show was Radio 1 presenter Fearne Cotton who claimed to have escaped the Radio 1 Christmas party to attend the West London event.
Other acts to join the ‘Starry Eyed’ hit-maker with stripped-back performances of their own hits were 18-year-old singer-songwriter Birdy, Right Here singer Jess Glynne, London-based trio Years & Years’ front man Olly Alexander, singer and pianist Tom Odell and the Dan Smith-led rockers Bastille who played their rendition of the TLC song No Scrubs before launching into their own track Pompeii.
The show came to a close some three hours after it began with the Burn singer inviting back out the entire line-up of the evening as well as boyfriend and McBusted bassist Dougie Poynter for a rendition of the seasonal Wham! hit Last Christmas which had the audience singing and swaying along and who were left in a jubilant and festive mood as they exited the venue.
While very unrehearsed and filled with short lulls between acts, the night was a resounding success for Ellie Goulding and her all-star line-up. The Streets of London message was well received by the crowd along with some astounding and saddening facts about London’s homeless plight. But it’s sure to be a message taken to heart by most.
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Review and Photography by Kalpesh Patel. Ellie Goulding & Friends @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire. London. 16th December 2014.