Review: Billie Eilish @ RAC Arena
Finishing her Happier Than Ever World Tour on Australia’s west coast, the 20-year old pop star did not disappoint the roaring stadium of adoring fans.
Image Credit Matty Vogel
Global pop sensation Billie Eilish embarked on her sixth concert tour this February, the Happier Than Ever, World Tour which saw the 20 year old singer-songwriter-producer play 77 shows across North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania, concluding the run at RAC Arena in Boorloo/ Perth last week. Accompanied on stage by drummer Andrew Marshall, and her beloved brother Finneas on guitar, it became clear as her presence entered the stage that she didn’t need too much else to have an arena full of fans holding onto her every last syllable.
Previously gracing us Aussies with her presence with the When We All Fall Asleep world tour, this time around was treated to a much needed capacity upgrade, Billie packing out two nights at RAC Arena opposed to the previous over-spilling Fremantle Arts Centre performance of ‘19. Buzzing with excitement, crowds ranging from those in their 30’s right down to children accompanied by a parent all filed into the arena, sporting all the merch they could gather. Settling into their standing room, and mothers collecting foam blocks for their children's seats, it’s incredible to think this may be the first concert some of these kids have ever been to (with the pandemic-state of the world from the past few year) as the house lights dimmed, they all roared together.
To open the night Zambian-born Botswana-raised poet and rapper Sampa The Great showed us that she truly understood the assignment. Accompanied by her all-Zambian band, backup singers, and dancers (which included her sister and cousin), it was a very impressive opener performance from a live ensemble with little to no pre-recorded audio backings that still sported a high production value, and had the crowd truly connected and engaged with arms-in-air, phone light on, swaying along. Telling stories between tracks that were moving and enriched with culture, it was beautiful to see an empowering woman with such a strong stage presence own each and every line to such a responsive audience.
The wait between support-to-headliner is always an awkward period, as the crowd anxiously anticipate when their idol will be appearing on the stage. For the Billie Eilish show, this wait started with an advertisement for veganism (aligning with the artists stance on the subject), the lit-up screens shining over the 15,000-odd capacity space, before simmering back into house music. But before too long, the arena dimmed once again before a deep rumble of bass and the introduction of shooting light beams signified the show was about to begin.
Photo by Phil Walter
With Finneas to her right, and drummer Andrew to her left, a baggy-shirt space-bun wearing Billie appeared on the stage for the Oxytocin Intro welcomed by an ear-piercing scream from everyone at the concert. Rolling through a stack of huge tunes, she eventually paused between bangers to get the audience on their feet to bounce along with her, before simmering it back down into a idontwannabeyouanymore / lovely medley. This change in tempo was short lived as jumping was once again a must when you should see me in a crown started, Billie continuing to tear from one incredible song to the next, before moving to a stool front-of-stage alongside her brother. With the tender strums of an acoustic, the pair moved the phone light lit audience, playing guitar and singing in perfect harmony with one another.
Ramping up the vibes once again, Billie disappeared from the stage, reappearing on a crows-nest-like contraption which hoisted her above and around the backer-half of the arena, moving in a circular motion as she performed OverHeated into another medley, this time consisting of bellyache / ocean eyes / Bored. Whilst an amazing and interactive LED lit stage, and moving alien-abducting-like lights over the audience had been impressive throughout the show, this feature of her singing whilst rotating over the stadium was definitely a stand out high-production-value moment of the night.
Photo by Matty Vogel
Once again returning to the stage for the final quarter of her set, the young artist began to chat a bit more to the screaming crowd, feeling very grateful and quite sentimental as stuffed toys and knick-knacks were pelted in her general direction. Explaining that this was the final show from a year of touring, she hinted that a new album is in the works for her return home, before throwing in a few more fan-favourite tunes, each finished with more dialogue expressing a deeply devoted love for her fans.
As the deep rumbling bass of bad guy ceased, a huge eruption of confetti showered RAC Arena, as Billie Eilish began her tour-named 2x platinum certified 2021 release Happier Than Ever to the packed out audience of fans who screamed along to every single line. Completely engulfed in the emotional strength of the song, and covered in confetti, sweat, and maybe even a few tears, it was a bittersweet moment of pure joy with a little hint of sadness for performer and crowd alike, as we knew the show was nearly over. Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O'Connell singing her final line, and running off stage to the barricade to hold the hands of fans, Finneas strummed away on his distorted guitar, as a final large roar closed the night out beautifully. She continued to make her way around the front row of fans, as goodbye played through the sound system.
Photos by Phil Walter
Photo by Mark Metcalfe
Ears ringing a little more and hearts a little fuller than before, fans brushed off the confetti and exited slower than they had once entered, returning on their way home with the unique feeling and experience that only the adrenaline rush of a live concert can offer - and a great one at that thanks to the music and performance of the one and only Billie Eilish.
Thanks to Fronteir Touring for letting us be a part of the experience, and to Matty Vogel, Phil Walter and Mark Metcalfe for the delightful snaps.