Chaos. That’s how Billie Eilish described her last-minute headline show at London’s Electric Ballroom on Tuesday night. Over the bank holiday weekend, Eilish had become the youngest solo headliner at Reading and Leeds Festivals with a show that conjured up intimacy in a crowd of 90,000. Over the past 18 months, the star has also sold out five nights at London’s massive O2 Arena and topped the bill at Glastonbury. She’s an artist comfortable on the world’s biggest stages.
By comparison, playing to 1,500 fans in London was apparently “terrifying”. Three songs into the set, Eilish had to stop the menacing snarl of Therefore I Am to help a fan. She restarted it, then stopped again. “I haven’t played a show this small in six years and I’ve forgotten how to do it,” she said, before finally finishing the track.
It didn’t take long for Eilish to find her groove though, as she leant right into the chaos. Before the warped My Strange Addiction, she invited fans to lose their minds and encouraged mosh pits for the swaggering You Should See Me In A Crown, just like the early days.
Adding to the special feeling around the gig, Eilish played a handful of older tracks with the packed crowd screaming in excitement the moment they recognised the melancholic Xanny, the dreamy Bitches Broken Hearts and the lush Wish You Were Gay.
She was joined by the UK singer and rapper Labrinth for Never Felt So Alone, while US indie supergroup Boygenius – aka. Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers – took to the stage for a dazzling take on When The Party’s Over. “I’m in love with all three of them,” she said afterwards. There was a lot of that going around.
“How great is it that we’re alive and we get to be together like this,” said Eilish a little later, making sure everyone was well hydrated, dishing out bottles of water, and feeding fans crisps. More than once, she laughed at how loud the screams were. Eilish may have made a name for herself with moody, self-destructive tracks like Bury A Friend, which was built around the hammering chorus “I wanna end me”, but Tuesday night’s gig was a celebration of belonging.
Throughout, she made space for cathartic screams, quiet reflections and euphoric moments of dance. “It’s so nice to see all your faces up close,” she said, with the night a chance for the global megastar to reconnect with fans before whatever comes next. “We have so much still to experience together”.