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Review: Elle King at The Majestic Theatre

Elle King

Elle King at The Majestic Theatre

By Justin Trudell

“Detroit! Y’all know how to party.” Even though she was pandering to the crowd, Elle King received a thunderous roar of approval at The Majestic Theatre for her claim during last night’s make-up performance after her canceled show last fall.

A new date, a new jacket, – which Elle pointed out to us – and an engaging performance had more than made up for any disappointment felt from the cancellation of her last performance, of which she expressed a sincere regret. We got over it. Partially because she kept telling us to, but mostly because she gave us a show we wouldn’t soon forget.

elle king

Elle King is wholly unique. She combines the confidence of Beyoncé, the story telling of Adele, the crowd ball-busting of Father John Misty, and the vocal prowess of Janis Joplin. Being a novice to her music, I enjoyed the few songs I had heard, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I immediately noticed that she offered a realism that doesn’t exist with other female acts. She’s unapologetically strong and opinionated.

You can imagine Elle King writing songs not out of heartbreak and sorrow, but more out of revenge and an unwillingness to lose at this game called love. I imagine it’s still therapeutic to reflect on her loneliest moments to draw inspiration, but it seems she does it as a woman that’s marching forward, rather than a girl that can’t go on. Elle played a catalog of songs that were a window to where her emotional cuts originated, and her performance on stage was proof they’re only scars.

Elle King delivered a powerful set of her new stuff, a handful of covers, a pretty great mash up of “Jealous” by Nick Jonas with the hook from “Can’t Feel My Face,” her biggest hit “Ex’s and Oh’s,” and even unleashed her “special surprise” for Detroit: a cover of Eminem’s “Real Slim Shady.” The Eminem tribute acted as yet another token of appreciation for the support Detroit gave her despite the previously canceled show.

Elle King Detroit

Beyond her unique persona, Elle also offered a unique experience for the audience. She played to the crowd, and made us feel like she appreciated that we were there. Some artists have been conditioned to be on autopilot as they plow through yet another set, in yet another town. It becomes a blur. It’s unfair to say they don’t care; sometimes they have to put blinders on just to get through playing in front of thousands of people every night. Living in the moment night-after-night could drive you to a nervous breakdown. But, Elle King had a special connection, a real one with the crowd in Detroit. She acknowledged us; she was living in the moment. It made for a slightly less polished show, at times telling us flat-out that she was rambling about a story just because they needed time to tune a guitar, but we were fine with that because we were getting a performance that can never be duplicated. The reason the crowd loves her so much is because she is so genuine. This is who she is, take it or leave it.

Conceding to the fact I’m not her target demo, I have to admit some of the stage antics got a bit tiresome for me. I love hearing a story, but her overuse of colorful language was somewhat jarring and took me out of the show. I had Vietnam-like flashbacks to the trashy young ladies of my high school days when she strung together three sentences with a combined: 14 fuck’s, 7 bitches and a few shit’s (world’s worst pie recipe). I sound like an uptight, old, misogynistic man (all true), but finding gratuitous swearing funny/amusing went out with my high-pitched voice (age 22) and my virginity (age 23).

Elle King has talent and the attitude to match her vulnerable yet strong song catalog. The show was entertaining and energetic; the crowd even seemed to have a pulse, contrary to my experience at the recent Muse show. (wait for it..) BUT, I didn’t feel like this was her “A” game. She’s just gotten started and she’s already made a ton of Detroit fans; can’t wait to see what she brings to the table next.

Setlist (via Selist.fm)
Jackson
Can’t Be Loved
Good to Be a Man
I Told You I Was Mean
Good For Nothin’ Woman
Where the Devil Don’t Go
Song Of Sorrow
Kocaine Karolina
Oh! Darling (The Beatles cover)
Under the Influence
Can’t Feel My Face (The Weeknd cover)
Ex’s & Oh’s
Last Damn Night

Encore:
The Real Slim Shady (Eminem cover)
My Neck, My Back (Lick It) (Khia cover)
America’s Sweetheart

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