Concert Review: Elle King at Express LIVE!
The rising blue-eyed-soul diva raised glasses and sang loudly with her Columbus fans on Friday night
Just a few weeks after her excellent opening stint for the Dixie Chicks at Nationwide Arena, Elle King returned to her once-hometown of Columbus on Friday night for her very own headlining show at Express LIVE!
Austin, Texas export Paul Cauthen served as King’s opener, playing several tracks off of his just-released debut album, My Gospel. His rich and endearingly vintage cowboy baritone has earned him valid comparisons to Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. The catchy twang of his latest single, “I’ll Be The One,” and the retro swagger of “Marfa Lights” were standouts, drawing enthusiastic cheers from crowd that was steadily filling in the venue.
King took the stage around nine 0’clock, red Solo cup in hand that eventually came to rest in a holder attached to her microphone stand. She launched into the punchy rocker “Last Damn Night,” which set the celebratory tone for the remainder of the evening. Not much of her set list was different than the one she rolled out in support of the Chicks last month, but the good news is that it was equally great. King’s spiced-whiskey vocal is a powerful instrument; ranging from searing at the climax of blues romp “Chain Smokin’, Hard Drinkin’, Woman,” to soulfully restrained on the Janis Joplin-influenced, Fender rhodes-soaked “I Told You I Was Mean.”
King hit the pause button on the parade of cuts from her Love Stuff album twice; once to bring Cauthen back on stage for a chugging cover of Johnny Cash’s staple “Folsom Prison Blues;” another to officiate a vows renewal ceremony for Reynoldsburg locals Bill and Erin Davis (hence “The Ministry Tour” moniker). The couple then danced to King’s gutsy, but completely heartfelt, rendition of the Beatles’ Abbey Road classic, “Oh! Darling.”
It was hard not to celebrate with King as she reveled in her second return to Columbus in a month, especially as she called out friends and family members who had come out to the show. She also shared some good news with her fans mid-show: “So, I went to the CMAs…and I fuckin’ won, y’all!,” referring to the Musical Event of the Year honor she and Dierks Bentley had freshly received just a few nights previous for their duet “Different for Girls.” “I met Reba, Garth Brooks, and I ended up at Taylor Swift’s house!” The crowd cheered loudly before she leaned into the pretty ballad “See You Again,” which had been mentioned by Swift in their post-award hangout as her favorite song on King’s album.
She turned in a delightfully gritty performance of “Ain’t Gonna Drown,” and followed with the edgy “Where the Devil Don’t Go,” which had been recently featured in season four of Netflix’s original series, Orange Is the New Black. By the time King eventually got to her signature hit single “Ex’s and Oh’s” near the show’s end, the collective population in the room was more than a few drinks in and dancing and singing unabashedly. By all accounts, King’s homecoming was a success – hopefully leaving the door open for another stop in her old stomping grounds the next time she’s on the road with her next album.
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All photos by Grant Walters.