Gig Review by Chloe Gynne

Halsey Photo Credit Jimmy Fontaine

Photo Credit Jimmy Fontaine

It’s only half 7, but Brixton Academy is already near-full, with the queue still snaking around the block. Perhaps it’s the youthful eagerness of this audience- mostly groups of teen girls, talking enthusiastically and singing along loudly to the pre-show music- but moreso, it’s testament to the fanbase Halsey has built up in the UK. This is only her second UK tour, and anticipation is building up from the moment doors open.

First support Flor take advantage of the crowd’s excitability, and their West Coast indie pop goes down a treat. They are fast-paced and poppy, reminiscent of Phoenix, and the audience gives them the attention and applause they deserve.

BØRNS acts as main support, and he thrives: his huge sing-alongs, ‘Electric Love’ and ‘10,000 Emerald Pools’, ignite the crowd, while album tracks from his debut ‘Dopamine’ prove that he is more than capable in a venue of this size. He wins new fans with every falsetto note he hits perfectly, and with the joyous dancing of keyboardist Misty Boyce. Hopefully soon he’ll be headlining it himself.

Halsey shows up late, and fashionably: she slips onto the stage in a white, faux-fur jacket, embodying her debut album cover. Opening with ‘Gasoline’, she asks Brixton, “Are you insane like me? Been in pain like me?” and the crowd sing along with enough conviction to answer her question.

Halsey, with her minimal, textured electronic beats, her tattoos, her oft-dark lyrics, is the big sister who hands out warnings about the big bad world. She doesn’t sugar-coat her pop music, and she doesn’t act on the usual costume-changing, backing-dancing gimmicks that your average pop star would. While she is well rehearsed and statuesque on this large stage, she isn’t an unreachable figure: she jumps into the crowd during ‘Ghost’ and speaks to her fans like they’re old friends.

“I wrote this song two blocks away”, she says of set highlight ‘Haunting’. “I can’t believe I’m singing it here to a sold out crowd!” Halsey’s set is full of these grateful remarks, ones that seem to hold genuine surprise. Her speaking voice is husky and almost shy, a far cry from her confident, pitch-perfect vocals.

She is able to get the entire room to flash their phone lights to ‘Drive’ in an instant, and the crowd chants her name between ‘New Americana’ and ‘Colors’. To this crowd of empowered, switched-on young women, she is an icon. They dance because the music’s catchy and fun, but they sing because she tells them things they need to hear: that’s why ‘Hurricane’ features the biggest singalong moment, the masses belting out “don’t belong to no city, don’t belong to no man”.

Even during closer ‘Young God’, the entire crowd is singing every lyric back to her. Their phones are still in the air, recording every moment. Nobody left early. A large chunk of the crowd stuck around after the show, hoping to meet the woman herself. Halsey managed to captivate Brixton Academy with ease, and it seems inevitable that she probably won’t be able to play anywhere this small on her next UK tour.

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