Review: Billie Eilish at Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, April 30, 2019
Onstage in Sydney last night, as part of her debut global headline tour, Billie Eilish’s sold out show couldn’t be more far removed from her last performance in this city.
When the now 17-year-old took the stage at Laneway Festival in 2018, the groundswell that was building off the back of ‘Bellyache’ was palpable. She was a festival highlight and bossed her way through technical difficulties, but she was still forming her onstage presence.
Last night at Hordern Pavilion, as parental guardians braced themselves and fans rushed the front barrier wearing as much merch as they could layer, Billie Eilish injected us with choreographed chaos. If it had a colour and consistency it would look just like the thick blue liquid she poured from her eyes in the ‘when the party’s over’ video.
Following the release of her ARIA #1 debut LPWhen We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, her Australian tour will be an annual live music highlight – and yes, we know it’s only May.
Eilish may have slowly built up tension in the crowd with her backdrop animations – a sea of phones filming the hint into her creative genius – but when she made her entrance with ‘bad guy’ she was a whip of kicking legs, baggy sleeves and bouncing pigtails. She was perfect.
With just three people onstage, (Billie Eilish, her brother Finneas O’Connell on guitar and keys, and Andrew Marshall on drums), her set is powerful in its sparseness.
Through songs like ‘my strange addiction’, ‘You Should See Me in a Crown’ and ‘lovely’ (in which she played the video clip behind her which highlighted her Beats headphones sponsor) Eilish made it clear she was a fully realised artist in her own right.
Right before ‘watch’, she played a snippet of ‘Hard Knock Life’ from the Annie soundtrack, a perfect segue from the music industry’s loveable orphan who’s grown up on her ethos and ratbag individuality.
“For the whole of this next song I need you to give me you,” she said, stalking the stage before ‘COPYCAT. “Just give me you. And also… I love you.”
There were many adorable moments throughout the show
Like when fans drowned out her vocals with their own rendition on ‘wish you were gay’.
Or the moment when she sang ‘listen before i go’ from a seated position on the stage and said softly: “I need everybody to relax for this one okay… Ssh calm down.”
But it was when her brother (and support act) Finneas joined her at the front of the stage for ‘i love you’. The pair write, record and perform together; you just cannot fake that kind of creative, first-degree connection.
As they sat side by side on stools, it was clear how lucky this particular audience was to witness them together. It was a song they’d only performed live once before, just last week.
“All I ask is that we all live in the moment for this song.” Eilish asked fans ignore the urge to watch her through their phones for ‘when the party’s over’.
“Don’t look at them, look at me. I wanna see your faces,” she said.
Eilish chose ‘bury a friend’ as her farewell. With lyrics like “I wanna end me” and “Step on the glass, staple your tongue”, you can see why Eilish’s signature dish of noir-pop is on everyone’s lips.
Billie Eilish is obsessed with the grotesquely beautiful aspects of life. Whether it’s the spiders across her big screens, the rolling of her eyes in her press shots, or the themes in her music, she’s anti-pop idiosyncrasies and pro-individuality. And she’s perfect, just like us.