Anyone still wondering if Billie Eilish can be considered the future of rock ‘n’ roll (in Dave Grohl’s fighting words) got the answer after watching her positively own the United Center on Monday night.
Now, a few weeks later on her “Happier Than Ever” world tour, Eilish has almost inked her status as a true singer. Whoever can pick up screaming fans with a touch of acoustic guitar (like she did on “Male Fantasy”), can pack 28 songs into 90 minutes in total punk-rock style, and buck the standard formula. arena gigs waiving costume/set changes and even an encore. In an industry still struggling with how to promote female artists who don’t always fit into the pop mold, Eilish continues to be the rule-breaking Joan of Arc, changing the old guard for the better.
Monday’s show was something of a homecoming – the United Center, as Eilish noted, was her first arena-level venue of 2019. Delivered with its unrivaled panache and brooding glee, this performance showed why Eilish, just 20 and only two full albums to her name, can more than manage in the cavernous space.
The night opened with the eerie silence of “Bury A Friend,” hammered out by the two-handed live percussion of his two-handed backing band, drummer Andrew Marshall and his brother/producer/multi-instrumentalist Finneas. The dark and soft juxtaposition was pure chemistry that sparked the power of The Prodigy (helped by the strobe-powered video feed) and mixed with the appeal of Bjork. If that sounds insane, it’s just the beauty of Eilish’s multiple musical identities that always blend together so well. Overnight, she went from trip-hop singer (“All The Good Girls Go To Hell”) to trap-club kid (“Bad Guy”) to pop ingenue (“Hailey’s Comet”) to band starlet. sound (“No Time To Die,” the Grammy-winning song she wrote for the “James Bond” franchise) and even cabaret queen (“Billie Bossa Nova”), all songs blending together easily.
Wearing a pair of knee pads, it was clear that Eilish was ready to perform and she encouraged her fans to do the same throughout the night. “There’s no judgement, you don’t have to worry about how you look. We are all equal here,” she told the audience, who latched onto her every command, even pointing at the singer in brief meditation.
Several times, Eilish spoke directly to the mostly young and female crowd, preaching a message of being and loving yourself. Nor was discussing “Your Power,” saying it was the song she was most attached to and protective of. “I didn’t have a song like that when I was younger,” she said, adding that we have to “protect our young girls.” Taken from Eilish’s emotionally compelling new album, “Happier Than Ever,” it’s a great example of the record’s honest affirmations given by a Gen Z heroine. Her lyric mantra “Not My Responsibility,” in which the singer denounces the misogynistic opinions that have been given about her and women in general, is another.
“Your Power” came to a part of the set where her brother Finneas joined her for a two-part acoustic serenade with Eilish proudly showing him off as her constant collaborator. (At first, they were uploading songs to Soundcloud, helping Eilish become one of the most notable success stories of the digital music age.) Finneas received almost as much applause as his brother throughout the night. , and rightly so. Eilish would probably be the first to say she would be nothing without him. Finneas’ keen ear for production and nuanced sonic layers are what glue this project together, and seeing him tour with Eilish only makes it more apparent.
Later on set, watching family videos of baby Eilish during “Getting Older” gave another glimpse into the inner world of the entertainer who, even with all her weight, comes across as genuinely humble and graceful in her reciprocal love for His fans. When she wasn’t mingling with them on the push stage, she ascended via an aerial lift that circled around the arena where she could continue to make close contact. If she can continue to create that vibe in her next headlining appearance at Coachella and Glastonbury, it will stand her in good stead.
For the confetti-blasted “Happier Than Ever” finale, Eilish, Finneas and Marshall had one last move, gliding down the ramped stage for their final “arc,” all over again like proper rock stars.
1. “Bury a friend”
2. “I haven’t changed my number”
4. “That’s Why I Am”
5. “My Strange Addiction”
6. “I don’t want you to be anymore”
8. “You should see me in a crown”
9. “Billie Bossa Nova”
10. “GOLDEN WING”
11. “Hailey’s Comet”
12. “No time to die”
15. “I love you”
16. “Your Power”
17. “Male Fantasy”
20. “Eyes of the Ocean”
22. “Getting Old”
23. “Lost Cause”
24. “When the Party’s Over”
25. “All the good girls go to hell”
26. “All I Wanted”
28. “Happier Than Ever”