Billie Eilish Kicks Off “Happier Than Ever Tour” in New Orleans: Recap + Photos (2024)

The post Billie Eilish Kicks Off “Happier Than Ever Tour” in New Orleans: Recap + Photos appeared first on Consequence.

Billie Eilish knows how to fill the space around her. The 20-year-old has an enviable command over her stage, her audience, and herself. She’s a performer through and through, and her show at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Thursday night (February 3rd) proved Eilish is only continuing to grow.

The concert was the first stop on Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” world tour; on her 2020 “Where Do We Go? World Tour,” she managed to play only a handful of dates before it was postponed due to COVID. Most fans have waited years, then, to see Eilish sell out arenas, and she was not about to let them down.

The evening began with strobing lights, and the venue filled with screams. Drummer Andrew Marshall appeared first, and as the monitors went blindingly white, Eilish shot up from under the stage, ready to deliver her first proper tour date of 2022.

The stage was set up ideally for Eilish’s signature visual manipulations: multi-leveled and matte black, with a ramp that descended to the lower level, and a runway that allowed her to get up close with her crowd. Marshall and her brother and main collaborator Finneas mainly stuck to the upper level of the main stage, while Eilish moved freely around the triangular stage (and eventually soared over the audience in a crane).

Billie Eilish Kicks Off “Happier Than Ever Tour” in New Orleans: Recap + Photos (1)

Billie Eilish, photo by Matty Vogel

The malleable setup was quickly utilized as she performed “NDA.” Lane markings appeared on the ramp and the back monitors showed cars swerving, while Eilish danced in the projected street. Meanwhile, the side monitors warped Eilish in real time, layering her image like a visual echo. A similar distortion happened as she moved into “Therefore I Am,” where on screen she turned red and began blistering, fragmenting and glitching into a fiery puddle.

Eilish’s sophom*ore album Happier Than Ever, and its live interpretation, depict Eilish understanding herself as someone who is, simply, getting older. After performing a few songs on the elevated platform, Eilish made her way back to the main stage while childhood videos played on the monitors. She performed “Getting Older,” watching the videos herself, back to the audience as she sang: “The things I once enjoyed/ Just keep me employed.” While Eilish grappled with the joy-stripping descent into adulthood, the audience grappled with being part of the mechanism that strips joy.

Billie Eilish Kicks Off “Happier Than Ever Tour” in New Orleans: Recap + Photos (2)

Billie Eilish, photo by Matty Vogel

Eilish continuously reflected on the bleak realities of adulthood. During “all the good girls go to hell,” the monitors projected images of the effects of climate change: polar bears on melting ice caps, pollution, oil spills, and wildfires, the flames of which turned the arena red during the chorus. She addressed the crowd, saying that these images are difficult but necessary to look at, that we must take better care of the planet and each other. The plea perhaps felt out of place, but sincere — the equivalent of sharing for awareness when we’re unsure how to affect tangible change.

Happier Than Ever also illustrates Eilish’s maturity, and the show reflected it similarly. The way she danced and used her body was more mature and refined, her music leaning towards elegant control rather than gothic glitz. Eilish’s style was still completely recognizable, but it felt less like the booming announcement of a child trying to define themselves, and more like the firm statement of a young adult realizing there’s a lot of growing left to do.

After announcing that she had only two more songs, Eilish moved into “bad guy” — a crowd favorite — where she jumped around gleefully, swinging her arms side to side. After deciding against a mic stand, she pulled out her pigtails and began thrashing harder than before, while confetti shot out of the ceiling.

Billie Eilish Kicks Off “Happier Than Ever Tour” in New Orleans: Recap + Photos (3)

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Throughout the show, Eilish tried multiple times to get the entire crowd on the same page, attempting to channel the wistful catharsis of live show camaraderie. She employed the quintessential tactic of urging the crowd to get as low as possible and springing to the air during “Oxytocin”—which, during an arena show when the majority of people are in seats, only reaches maximum impact for those on the floor—and at another point tried to get thousands of people to harmonize effectively, a nearly impossible task.

Billie Eilish Kicks Off “Happier Than Ever Tour” in New Orleans: Recap + Photos (4)

Billie Eilish, photo by Matty Vogel

Still, none of these devised moments of unity were as powerful as Eilish performing her final song, “Happier Than Ever.” As anyone who’s contributed to the song’s 500 million-odd streams on Spotify knows, it begins with quiet vocals backed by a ukelele, as Eilish details a matter-of-fact reflection on simply being happier when someone isn’t around.

But by the time the song built to its powerhouse third verse, the entire arena was screaming along. There are few experiences as healing as a room full of people yelling to their respective, absent exes, every unique wrong folded into the same language for shared commiseration. It’s transcendent all on its own — no flashy visuals or special instructions needed.

As Eilish finished her set, and ran up to join her brother and her drummer, they all stood together and rolled down the ramp for a fittingly playful ending.

Eilish will next play the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday (February 5th). Tickets for that date, and for the rest of the tour, are available via Ticketmaster.

Setlist:
bury a friend (with “Oxytocin” intro)
I Didn’t Change My Number
NDA
Therefore I Am
my strange addiction
idontwannabeyouanymore
lovely
you should see me in a crown
Billie Bossa Nova
GOLDWING
Halley’s Comet
Oxytocin (with snippet of “COPYCAT”)
ilomilo
Your Power
Male Fantasy
Not My Responsibility
OverHeated
bellyache
ocean eyes
Bored
Getting Older
Lost Cause
when the party’s over
all the good girls go to hell
everything i wanted
bad guy
Happier Than Ever

Billie Eilish Kicks Off “Happier Than Ever Tour” in New Orleans: Recap + Photos
Marisa Clogher

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Billie Eilish Kicks Off “Happier Than Ever Tour” in New Orleans: Recap + Photos (2024)

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