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MUSIC REVIEW

Warm welcome for Goulding

Ellie Goulding’s first show in Boston sold out the Paradise Wednesday. Ellie Goulding’s first show in Boston sold out the Paradise Wednesday. (Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe)
By James Reed
Globe Staff / March 25, 2011

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On the second night of her first US tour, Ellie Goulding wasn’t sure what to expect. In her native England, the pop star packs theaters and tops the charts. She’s a new face to American audiences, and her debut album, “Lights,’’ was released here just a few weeks ago.

Goulding’s doubts must have melted during the opening song at the Paradise Rock Club on Wednesday night. You could hardly hear her over the audience on the singalong chorus of “Under the Sheets’’: “We’re under the covers/ And you’re killing me’’ came the echo in unison.

“It’s been a long time coming,’’ Goulding said midway through the sold-out show, which was also her first time playing in Boston. “I didn’t really know if anyone knew me out here. This is [expletive] cool.’’

It was easy to see what the fuss was about. A slight singer, Goulding nonetheless has immense appeal, from the confessional lyrics to the anything-goes demeanor that made her instantly lovable. A bit prim and proper initially, she loosened up soon enough, occasionally playing acoustic guitar and tossing her nest of blond tresses as if starring in her own private hair-metal video.

Goulding was game for whatever came her way, including a mysterious plastic cup that was hoisted to her from the audience. She eyed it suspiciously, cringed, and asked: “What is this, man?’’ It didn’t matter: Down the hatch the shot went, and the room was officially hers.

She also had a healthy sense of spite, a prerequisite for a songwriter whose main focus is heartache. Prefacing “Your Biggest Mistake,’’ Goulding seemed particularly pleased to admit she wrote it for someone who doesn’t know it’s about him and probably never will.

With just one full-length album to her credit, it was a brisk, one-hour show that Goulding used to showcase “Lights’’ in its entirety. A stark piano rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song’’ especially resonated with the crowd, allowing Goulding to dig deep into the ballad.

Just before closing with “Starry Eyed,’’ Goulding addressed her bandmates to confirm a suspicion she suddenly had about the rest of her US tour: “Is it ever going to get better than this?’’

James Reed can be reached at jreed@globe.com.

ELLIE GOULDING

At: Paradise Rock Club, Wednesday