A pretty amazing show was witnessed by those in the Wells Fargo Center Oct. 7. It was the Philadelphia stop on Halsey’s “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” World Tour. Bringing her cinematic concept album to stage with amazing production, the “Now or Never” singer made a big impression.
I was surprised that Halsey was already taking on an arena tour. This is only her second album, and she only recently notched her first major radio hits. The last show Halsey played in Philly was at Festival Pier at the end of summer 2016. It was a big jump for her to go all the way to an arena just a year later.
There were so many unsold seats that those who had purchased upper level seats were given seat upgrades. It is likely that this situation was anticipated. There isn’t really a venue that serves her crowd size, especially this time of year when banking on an outdoor venue is too big a risk. I could see a growing concert industry utilizing this tactic a lot more in the future.
Her openers were Charli XCX and PartyNextDoor. I was surprised to see Charli take the stage first. In my opinion, Charli XCX is a more successful artist than PartyNextDoor. Maybe I’m just out of the loop.
Charli gave a commendable opening performance. Her energy was infectious, and she had the crowd singing along to some of her well-known records. She is one of those artists who has the hits, but their name escapes association with them. It was a short set with just a DJ to back her up, but she used her time well and impressed.
PartyNextDoor, on the other hand, was a bummer. After getting so excited by Charli XCX, I really crashed during his set. He lacked stage presence and could use some work on enunciation. I can’t tell you much about his songs because I genuinely could not understand most of what he said.
After PartyNextDoor wrapped up his set, the energy in the stadium rose in anticipation of the main event. Light operators took their seats and were hoisted to the ceiling while white curtains dropped, covering the perimeter of the main stage.
Then came the sounds of “The Prologue,” the first track on “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.” The stadium was dark as Halsey’s vocoded voice echoed through the arena. A backlit shadow appeared as Halsey began to sing “Eyes Closed.” Just before the first chorus, the curtains whipped up to reveal the stage.
It was visually stunning. A stage-spanning set of stairs with LED screens expanded upon the two screens in the back. These stairs also had built-in rigs for pyro and fog bursts. It was clear that a lot of thought was put into these visuals, and they really added to the show.
Halsey was accompanied by a small band relegated to the back sides of the stage. Other than that, she traveled with just one female dancer. This dancer acted as the paramour in the story. She danced during a handful of the songs. Halsey herself even busted a couple moves.
I was impressed most by Halsey’s voice. She had amazing control and her emotion ripped through. On songs like “Heaven in Hiding” and “Angel on Fire,” the desperation was palpable as she belted. Her range is impressive, too. She showed off her head voice at the end of “Colors,” a hit song from her first album “Badlands.”
The only flaw in the show was the story. There is an overarching Romeo and Juliet theme in the album that I hoped to see more of in the show. The story appeared a couple of times throughout the show with her and her dancer, but not consistently enough for the audience to really grasp the concept. Halsey is very good at translating her ideas to lyrics and melody, but she fails to translate it to a bigger picture on stage.
The audience was engaged in the show. People around me were singing along to every word. When she performed a piano version of “Closer,” her collaboration with The Chainsmokers that nobody could escape fall 2016, the energy in the arena was kinetic. It was the first time she performed the song on this tour. The crowd was also excited to hear summer radio hit “Now or Never.”
The “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” Tour was a bold statement for a rising pop star. Halsey put on a great show, and showed her ability to fill an arena with energy. I had a lot of fun and look forward to seeing what she will do next. I am sure it won’t be long before she comes through Philly again, and I would highly recommend checking her show out.