“If there’s one song that describes what being Halsey means, it’s this one” the American songstress says, before launching into hardhitting tune Hurricane. With lyrics like “I’m a wanderess, I’m a one night night stand, don’t belong to no city, don’t belong to no man”; it’s clear that Halsey is not just another cookie-cutter pop star. Pausing mid-song to declare that “this song is to remind you that you don’t belong to anyone but yourself”, the 20-year-old is all about empowerment.
With her first show at the Barfly selling out within seconds and being upgraded to Islington’s O2 Academy, prompting another date to be added at Camden’s Koko to meet demand, it’s clear that Halsey is on a fast track to international stardom. As she took to the stage for her first ever London show, the feeling of appreciation between artist and fan was palpable. Maybe that has something to do with her debut record, released just two weeks ago, hitting number nine on the UK album charts.
Opening with upbeat Gasoline and following into hard-hitting Hold Me Down, the 800-strong crowd turned into a giant singalong, continuing throughout her 13 song set. Transitioning effortlessly between bolder songs like Castle and the slowed down Drive, it’s no wonder why she is currently music’s most talked about artist. While Halsey’s gritty and indie-esque voice may not be for everyone, Control and Haunting in particular were able to show off her impressive and unique vocal skills. Being a young female singer with a mostly young female fanbase, Halsey’s self-awareness and self-confidence is a welcomed surprise. Between strutting around the stage and speaking intimately with the crowd, she plays with gimmicks often reserved for cocky male rockstars; swearing, dropping to her knees, microphone-licking and even climbing onto the crowd barrier.
“London can I play a game with you?” initiated a highlight of the night. As the New Jersey native launched into an acapella version of the first few lines from Is There Somewhere, the first song she ever wrote, the crowd followed suit, singing the entire first verse and chorus. More highlights came in the form of New Americana, an anthem of sorts for the youth of today, and Colors, which saw blue glow sticks being held in the air.
Finishing up her relatively short set with an encore of Young God, you can’t help but feel like it sums the singer up perfectly. Halsey is a a bit of a god in her own right. At least to her fans, who lapped up every moment with the young singer. In an industry that has a habit of trying to control its female artists, Halsey is an anomaly. Passionate, untamed, honest, and quite possibly the most exciting female musician we have out there at the moment.
If you haven’t bought or streamed Badlands yet, I highly recommend that you do.