I always joke that in 2019 I saw Billie Eilish when she performed at the Riverstage, but I didn’t hear her because the crowd was singing that passionately loud. It was half a joke, but half the reality. She was THE artist on the rise, and since then she’s won seven Grammy Awards, and become the biggest artist in the world. Her sophomore album ‘Happier Than Ever’ is a stunning record from start to finish, and it only seems appropriate that she is on a sold out arena tour to celebrate. With three dates at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, the fanfare was at an all-time-high with hundreds of fans camping out since 6am to be as close as possible to her.
Packing into the arena early, the venue was as at 90% capacity during the support act Sampa The Great who showcased why she was born to play arenas. The Zambian based singer, songwriter, and rapper delivered a 45 minute set of high energy, dancing, her culture, and important messaging. Filling her set with songs like ‘Energy’, Lane’, ‘Black Girl Magic’, ‘Lo Rain’, ‘Never Forget’ and ‘Bona’, as well as powerful dance breaks, she tricked the audience into feeling like they were at her headline show. It was an incredible showcase of who she is as an artist, as well as Zambian culture with her band and dancers who beautifully bought their own experiences to the stage. Throughout her whole set my mouth was wide open in awe of how she commanded the stage and delivered such power with every word and step she took.
With the venue at full capacity and screaming with anticipation along to the pre-show playlist, the house lights finally dimmed and the strobe lighting rigs set-up around the venue started flashing with the sound of sirens announcing her arrival. Shot into the air from a trap door, Billie Eilish arrived onto the stage to deafening screams as she kicked off the 90 minute pop extravaganza with ‘bury a friend’ and ‘I Didn’t Change My Number’. “It’s good to see you again Brisbane! It’s been a minute, huh?” She exclaimed as she looked out to ecstatic crowd. Taking a moment to set some house-rules, she made sure everyone understood there was no being mean and no judging to happen at the show, and that everyone could have fun and be whoever they wanted to be in the safety of the walls of the arena. Launching into the fiery energy of ‘NDA’, ‘Therefore I Am’, ‘my strange addiction’, and ‘you should see me in a crown’, the singalong’s were LOUD. But this time as she was inside an arena, we could actually hear her matched with the crowd, and could feel the bass vibrating through us in the grandstands where we stood.
Stripping things back to just her and brother FINNEAS, the acoustic renditions of ‘i love you’, ‘Your Power’ and ‘TV’ felt even more intimate with the emotion being extra striking. Running through the crowd to a b-stage situated at the back of the arena, she jumped on a cherry-picker that took her to the air for ‘OverHeated’, ‘bellyache’, ‘ocean eyes’ and ‘Bored’, which allowed her to get up close and personal with everyone in the arena. It was a special moment in the set that really cemented the grand nature of this production. Everything about this show was big. From the screens, to the visuals, the lighting, and the long catwalk that spurted from the stage. Everything was done with breathtaking precision. I couldn’t help but keep thinking how special it would have been to have been your first concert. And the reality was that a lot of people in that arena were experiencing their first concert, and it was fucking special.
Returning back to the main stage during ‘Getting Older’, she entered the final run of songs, and it was a marathon of hits. ‘Lost Cause’, ‘when the party’s over’, ‘all the good girls go to hell’, ‘everything I wanted’ and ‘bad guy’ led the crowd to the final moment, and it was the one that everyone was mentally preparing themselves for. With confetti falling from the ceiling during the start of Happier Than Ever’, by the time she reached the famous bridge the massive singalong turned into a scream-along, and it was goosebump inducing. Everyone was singing directly to someone that had hurt them as they screamed “you made me hate this city” and “just fucking leave me alone” in unison, and it was magical. Therapy is important, but I will fight that a Billie Eilish concert is just as important in the healing process. It’s truly a right of passage for a break-up, and this show was one of those unmissable concerts in history that people will be talking about in 20 years time just like Madonna’s ‘Blond Ambition Tour’, or Lady Gaga’s ‘Monster Ball Tour’. And it’s also one that has become a huge milestone in her career and has elevated her trajectory even further.
Visit here for all Billie Eilish Australian tour details, and final tickets for remaining shows in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.