Ashley Nicolette Frangipane aka Halsey, from New Jersey, USA, makes her UK debut in London with a sold out show at the O2 Academy, Islington. Originally scheduled to play at Camden’s Barfly, the demand for Halsey meant it was upgraded to O2 Academy Islington’s 800 capacity venue. After selling out in seconds, Halsey added an extra date at KOKO London the next evening.
Halsey’s debut album ‘Badlands’ was released on August 28, following it’s predecessor ‘Room 93 EP’, and has been referenced as Halsey’s state of mind during the writing process – a metaphor of a physical place for the demons and her desolate mind. It is a daring album, celebrating the freedom of individuality, female sexuality and challenging patriarchy.
Support came from London singer songwriter Matt Wills, who warmed up the crowd and played an old school garage medley of songs including ‘I’ll Bring You Flowers’, ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’, ‘With A Little Bit of Luck’ and a snippet of the headliner Halsey’s ‘New Americana’.
Chants of “Halsey” began a few minutes before the scheduled stage time and screams erupted as the lights dimmed and Halsey made her way on=stage, opening with ‘Gasoline’ to which fans sang along fiercely to lyrics “do you call yourself a f***ing hurricane like me?”, referencing back to ‘Hurricane’ on her first EP. Halsey dove right into ‘Hold Me Down’, much to the delight of the screaming fans as Halsey paraded around the stage.
After the first two track of her 13 song setlist, Halsey introduced herself to shouts and screams of adoration and thanked the crowd for getting ‘Badlands‘ into the top 10 charts before singing the first track of the album, ‘Castle’.
Slowing down, the synth introduction for “Drive” brought the crowd together as they sang the chorus louder than Halsey herself and leading into “Roman Holiday“. Halsey then spoke about the process of getting her debut album out and the path to making it possible to tour in the UK. She then teased the crowd and led into “Haunting” and “Control“, creating a darker ambience in the room.
“I don’t like them innocent..”, Halsey conducted the audience into “Ghost“, who sang each word collectively in time acapella-style, much to her delight. Halsey ended the set with “Colors” and “New Americana” with fans dancing with their hands in their air, absorbing themselves into the drum beat and streaming colourful lights. The encore came with “Young God“, as the crowd chanted for more as they declared lyrics “if you wanna go to heaven you should f**k me tonight“.
Halsey also included tracks “Is There Somewhere” and “Hurricane” from her “Room 93” EP into her setlist.
Sporting a blue/pink hairstyle with confident fluidity onstage, Halsey kept the audience captivated throughout the whole performance with strong vocals and fans who sang along to every song. The lighting and fog created a celestial atmosphere as she portrayed the variety of emotions in each track, leaving goosebumps on your skin.
“Badlands” is available for purchase on iTunes here.