By Jack Holmes
Originally booked for a slot at the Academy 2, Halsey was moved to her spot after selling out the venue in near record time, then went ahead and sold out the Academy 1 as well. The queue for the venue began at around 9 o’clock in the morning and by the time of the 7 O’clock opening, the queue stretched all the way back to the Manchester Museum, that’s a pretty impressive queue for those of you who aren’t familiar with the area. A year ago Halsey was a barely known electro pop star, today she’s selling over 150,000 tickets on her first ever British tour. Not bad going at only 21.
But before we get around to Halsey we should discuss her supports. First up is Flor, a Los Angeles four piece here to introduce the crowd to their Silversun Pickups meets pop, indie synth. They put on a great show, solid soaring vocals seem to surprise the majority of the crowd who aren’t familiar with them, myself included.
They’re followed by Borns, stage name of Garrett Borns, another musician hailing from Los Angeles. With the rest of his band Borns seem to focus a little more on their stage show than their music. This wouldn’t necessarily have been a bad thing had they still have had the tracks to maintain the musical attention of the audience however no amount of hair swishing and posing can make up for lacklustre tracks. At their best Borns could have created a real ambience, however tonight seem to simply bore the younger fans here, a number of who actually decide to sit on the venues floor until Halsey makes an appearance. The audience wanted energy and Borns simply couldn’t match their need.
It’s clearly apparent come the sound check for headlining Halsey that the majority of the crowd tonight have come with the singular purpose of seeing her in the flesh. Having built up the majority of her hardcore following through social media such as Tumblr and Youtube, tonights youthful crowd are more than happy to scream straight from the end of Borns set to the start of Halseys. This peaks as Halsey finally emerges to a scream that would’ve shattered windows if the venue had any. Opening straight into ‘Gasoline’ the fans start as they mean to go on, echoing every lyric, spoken word and song intro back at the New Jersey singer from the start of the set, right through the last moments of her encore.
Halseys also managed to stay at the forefront of the current live music trends, incorporating an effective light show and media element in the form of almost art show like videos which accompany each track. They add an extra layer to the show and really help set the crowds mood, presumably controlled from a member of crew rather than simply on time queues, it doesn’t stop Halsey interacting with the crowd throughout the show either. It’s a nice addition that allows less passionate fans who might not be as familiar with the artist lyrically, another reason to feel entertained for the night.
About the only issue of the night comes from the reason Halsey has such a large following so early in her career, her fans social media savviness. The entire room seems to be filled with a haze of raised cameras and phones throughout the night, a mild irritation at first, yet quickly becoming a real annoyance. It’s not a new issue that the live music industry has begun to be faced with either and you can read my full article on the issue here. You can also see what I mean in the video below (apologies for the lack of sound).
The star of the night herself seems surprisingly comfortable on stage, impressive for an artist who hasn’t been touring for a particularly long spell of her career. If any of the audience were in any doubt as whether with only a sole album to her name Halsey would be able to perform effectively, a torrent of smiling faces leaving the building should be more than enough proof.