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Ellie Goulding splits the difference between simplicity and spectacle

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Ellie Goulding at Mandalay Bay Events Center on April 9, 2016.

Three stars

ELLIE GOULDING April 9, Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Although she’s had a number of solid pop hits, Ellie Goulding may not quite be an arena-level act yet. Even with several sections blocked off completely, there were plenty of empty seats in the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night, and the show might have worked better in a venue like the Joint or the Pearl, where Goulding’s fans could have packed in and created more excitement. Whatever the size of the crowd, though, Goulding seemed genuinely grateful and humble about her success. “This many people coming to see me is always overwhelming,” she said before closing out the show with hit “Love Me Like You Do,” and her enthusiasm was endearing enough to compensate for the night’s sometimes bland performance.

Ellie Goulding at Mandalay Bay Events Center on April 9, 2016.

Goulding, who started out as a more low-key singer-songwriter, is in an odd middle ground between indie and mainstream pop, which meant that her set featured both choreographed dance routines and stripped-down numbers like a piano-driven version of early hit “Lights” and a solo acoustic take on dance-pop song “Devotion.” Her guitar-playing was much more impressive than her sporadic efforts at joining her back-up dancers, although she seemed to be enjoying the pop-spectacle trappings, including various costume changes and a fairly elegant stage set-up with large video screens and flowing tapestries. Before main-set closer “Burn,” Goulding implored everyone in the audience to put away their phones and just appreciate the moment, making it clear that despite her pop-star ambitions, she’s still focused on preserving simple connections.

Setlist:

“Aftertaste”

“Holding on For Life”

“Goodness Gracious”

“Something in the Way You Move”

“Outside”

“Devotion”

“Keep on Dancin’”

“Don’t Need Nobody”

“Explosions”

“Lights”

“Army”

“Lost and Found”

“Figure 8”

“On My Mind”

“Codes”

“Don’t Panic”

“We Can’t Move to This”

“I Need Your Love”

“Burn”

Encore:

“Anything Could Happen”

“Love Me Like You Do”

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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