Halsey commands crowd at sold-out Masonic Temple

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

It was a hot one on Wednesday as Halsey led the “New Americana” through a sweaty, sold-out show at Detroit’s Masonic Temple.

Fans used whatever they could to fan themselves inside the steamy theatre as the New Jersey singer – resembling a tiny Pink with her closely cropped, platinum blonde hair – commanded the stage for her 14-song, 70-minute concert that drew mostly from last year’s “Badlands” album.

The crowd was full of lit screens as Halsey took the stage to “Gasoline” at just after 9 p.m. “Are you insane like me? Been in pain like me?” the 21-year-old emoted in her husky, raspy voice as fans roared.

Halsey, born Ashley Frangipane, is cut from a darker cloth than some of her pop star contemporaries; she’s more Lorde than Taylor Swift on the pop-goth spectrum. Some of that is marketing, however; she copped to singing “pop music totally disguised as alternative music” during between-song banter on Wednesday.

Still her message is one of empowerment, self-confidence and self-love. “When you come to this concert, feel proud of everything that you are,” she told the crowd, which fell to an attentive hush whenever their queen spoke. “Are you proud of who you are?” she asked, while the fans – mostly teens and 20-somethings who skipped the 5 Seconds of Summer concert across town at The Palace – screamed their approval.

Backed by a three-person band tucked away in the wings, Halsey worked the stage with confidence beyond her experience as a performer, strutting back and forth, crouching low to the ground and occasionally climbing the scaffolding that made up the back of her set. Video images were beamed onto the wall behind her, and the self-proclaimed “punk girl my whole life” made sure to keep control in the crowd, pausing the show briefly to urge the packed floor to make room for one another and take care of each other. It was hot down there, after all.

It was only March of 2015 that Halsey sold out Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit, which she reminisced about on stage Wednesday. “It’s been a really crazy year!” she said, one in which her profile has blown up (she performed at this year’s Coachella and Bonnaroo festivals and is headed to Lollapalooza this weekend) while she sealed her stardom by sharing a song with Justin Bieber (“The Feeling,” which she performed midway through Wednesday’s concert).

And big things are ahead; if her songwriting can keep up with the enthusiasm that surrounds her, she’ll be well off.

The Notorious B.I.G.- and Nirvana-referencing “New Americana” came late in the show, and “Colors” closed the night as cannons blew confetti into the air. It may be the last time she’s on a stage that size in Detroit; the next time around, she’ll likely be onto something bigger.


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