Welcome to the Badlands: Live Edition

Some of you might have read my song-by-song look into rising solo artist Halsey and her debut album, Badlands, which can be found here.

Last night, on the 19th February 2016, I saw her perform live; it was her first ever show in Scotland, making it just a little more special.

The venue was the O2 Academy in Glasgow, a venue with many happy memories for me, although it felt so small in comparison to the arenas I've been seeing bands in lately.

Halsey's support acts consisted of a four-piece LA band called Flor and a solo artist under the alias of BORNS. Sadly it took so long for the door staff to let people into the venue that I missed most of Flor's set, but from the couple of songs I did catch, they had a sweet, mellow sound and I might check them out soon. As for BORNS, truthfully, he was very boring. His genre of music seemed much too different to Halsey's to really get the crowd excited, and he didn't speak to the audience much. In my experience, a support act that interacts with the audience more than just playing music, reaches out beyond the music -- they get the best reactions. And that bodes well for both the audience and the band, and for the main act.

I was bored throughout BORNS' set, so I was glad when he left the stage. Halsey took to the stage at approximately twenty minutes past nine, and the crowd truly lost it. Lot of teenage girls screaming. But it was nice to see; the strong female following for a girl not much older than all of us in the audience.

Sweetly, a song or two into the set, she stated how the show was dedicated to Kesha, after the recent happenings in her legal battle. The girl power was truly radiating from all corners.

The setlist was as follows:

  • "Gasoline"
  • "Hold Me Down"
  • "Castle"
  • "Strange Love"
  • "Haunting"
  • "Roman Holiday"
  • "Control"
  • "Drive"
  • "Ghost"
  • "Is There Somewhere?"
  • "Hurricane"
  • "New Americana"
  • "Colours pt. II" (during this she left the stage and then returned for the next song...)
  • "Colours"
  • "Young God" (encore)

Even since before I got into Halsey, photos of her on the internet depicted her wearing outfits onstage that were exposing and provocative; not overly so, but certainly something a little different. Last night was no exception. She made her way onto the stage wearing thigh-high suede boots, high-waisted glittery black shorts, and what looked to be a crop-top sweater. It was baggy and figure-hiding, but about three songs in, she left the stage again, and returned with the sweater gone -- wearing only a white bralette. The outfit felt like a statement to match the theme of her concept album, of her whole concept tour and show.

The lighting and backdrop was something a little different. Basic lights, but there was a constant film strip playing in the background of each song to match it closely. It was often simple things, like swinging lightbulbs on cords or falling rain, or more detailed such as images of an eerie castle on a dark night, to match the song "Castle", of course. There was also the inclusion of galaxies at some points. It was something different, and if Halsey gets to perform bigger venues in the UK at some point, it's certainly an idea that could be expanded to be even better. But for the theme of Badlands, it blended very well, giving the visualisations needed for Halsey's make-believe society.

Possibly my favourite portion of the show was the Scottish chant. It's a country-wide theme in Scotland to chant, "Here we, here we, here we f*ckin' go!" at concerts and such. I've been to shows where bands from thousands of miles away actually start the chant themselves because they're so excited to hear it. Being Halsey's first time in Scotland, she seemed puzzled at first, screaming, "What?!" back at us after every line of the chant, but after several moments of this, it seemed more like she was encouraging us to be louder. It followed her stating she couldn't believe she was playing a show in Scotland, in her enchanting New Jersey accent.

There were moments during the show when Halsey would stop to show her gratitude, telling the crowd that she was scared a day would come when her fans think she doesn't tell them she loves them enough, so she was going to tell us "every f*cking day."

She also made a touching speech about people asking how she doesn't get sick of the same thing every day -- getting up, going to the venue, playing a show, going to bed, repeat, and about how she has days where she feels ugly or exhausted or that she can't do this any more, but then she comes out onstage and doesn't understand how anybody could ever get sick of it.

I don't see how anyone could get sick of it either, and I can see big things happening for Halsey. Her strong voice easily filled the room, and the fact that her venue had to be upgraded due to high demand before this show speaks volumes. There are big steps to take for this up and coming young woman.

Truthfully, I was quite ill with a flu-type virus at this concert so it was hard to enjoy it fully (I actually fainted right at the very last song but that's another story), but I'm looking forward to her next tour so I can hopefully appreciate the concert for all it's worth -- which is a lot.

I definitely recommend those on the fence to see Halsey live. She has an excellent stage presence and knows how to fill the room, not to mention her songs are twice as good live as on record.

I'm grateful that Scotland has been included in the Badlands cycle. Here's to the next.

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