If anyone asks who Halsey is, you just have to sing that line “So baby pull me closer in the backseat of your Rover” and a slight groan may follow but at least everyone knows who she is, right? Just a little over half way on her 71-show Hopeless Fountain Kingdom World Tour, the 23 year old from New Jersey touched down in Perth on ANZAC Day eve for the first time. With the support of Kehlani, one of the biggest women in R&B at the moment, this was to be a show of pretty legitimate talent.
After seeing her blow us away in both August and December of last year, Kehlani returned for the third time to play another powerful and beautifully choreographed set. Back sporting a blonde bob there was also an addition of an acoustic interlude with Honey. It created some nice variance to the other stronger tracks like Gangsta. A one off experience for Perth fans was celebrating her 23rd birthday on stage with a cake and all, it really was the icing on top to her performance.
Taking a quick breather outside it was nice to see a little makeshift outdoor seating area but a shame to see a severe excess of wait staff standing behind lines of pre-poured drinks – was this inevitable wastage really necessary? The youths of the evening showed their devout following by sporting variations of Halsey’s previous signature blue, pink or green hair before they trickled back inside to see the woman they adore take the stage.
As soon as the lights were up, the partly spoken Prolouge was met with the deafening bass and the aggressive course vocals of Kanye’s Hold My Liquor before Halsey appeared silhouetted in a single spotlight. Moments later the white curtain dropped revealing a rhinestone encrusted figure atop a staircase completely shrouded in a sea of smoke. I can’t go on any further without allowing you a spoiler or two by saying this event was possibly the best lighting, staging and effects I’ve ever seen in Perth. There might have been corners cut elsewhere but production definitely was not one of them and the opener was a testament to that. As the smoke continued to cascade down the bleachers and into the mosh pit, Halsey was a sparkling spirit squatting on a cloud in boots and a glittering balaclava. Straight into one of the new favourites, Hold Me Down was met with sexually deviant X’s and strong red and black visuals before her dancer joined her on stage. It was only the third song in but she got everyone out of their seats to jump to Castle which, if you ask me, is a potentially dangerous thing to ask the tiered seating sections to do at HBF Stadium. Or is that just me getting old?
Taking it down to some cooler visuals a little lone swimming koi and the words ‘there’s a place where love conquers all, I haven’t found it yet but I’ll keep searching’ meant that Good Mourning was taking us into the next phase where the people of the LGBTQ and friends of that community exclusively should dance to Strangers and videos of people making out. The visuals throughout the show were a disputed topic where I enjoyed the simplistic and minimal close ups of standard objects or body parts whereas my guest thought it was lazy to “use shitty getty images”.
With a bit of a pep talk along the lines of “YOU are a warrior” she had the fireworks flying in an ultimate celebration of self to Roman Holiday and then threw out some fireballs to the 1:41 minute song Walls Could Talk. I’m telling you – no skimping on production.
Throwing on a pink hoodie she took a seat on the bleachers for a romantic piano version of Closer which was all a bit cringey in my opinion. It was here that I got the sense that there was a fair sense of ego as she thanked us for “choosing me to be the soundtrack of your life”. Firstly this is to assume that she would be the only artist we listen to and secondly is this not just a bit narcissistic? Credit where it’s due, she is an outstanding singer/ songwriter / performer/ dancer, I just wished she only used her voice to sing and not to talk. In saying that, maybe this is the extreme self worth and obsession that young girls need to feel mildly okay about who they are.
With another trick up her sleeve Halsey brought her dancer back out and splashed around on a stage that suddenly revealed itself to be a shallow pool of water. They circled one another like they were in a boxing ring and aggressively splashed around to Don’t Play soaking the audience. The fireballs returned for Him and I as she ran through to Hold Me Down and Colours.
Signalling the end of the concert she belted out Hurricane in the ultimate showdown of fireworks, fireballs, CO2 cannons and confetti. As the smoke began cascading down the stairs she ended as she began, just like a phoenix.
Photos by Peter Don & Grady Brannan