By Zach Goins
February 9, 2022
Photo: Matty Vogel
Two years after Billie Eilish’s 2020 tour was cut short in Raleigh, the seven-time Grammy winner made her return to North Carolina. Sunday night’s show at the Spectrum Center marked the third stop on Eilish’s Happier Than Ever tour, celebrating her 2021 album of the same name.
It was clear Eilish was thrilled to be back on stage, and the audience was equally excited for her return. Showcasing her range from uptempo pop-rock tracks to more fragile acoustic vocals, Eilish made sure her energy– and that of her fans– remained high throughout the entire set.
.@TKAYMAIDZA opening for @BillieEilish tonight in Charlotte! pic.twitter.com/7IIGgnNE3W
— CLTure® ( culture ) (@CLTure) February 7, 2022
The night began with an opening set from Zimbabwean-born Australian singer-songwriter and rapper Tkay Maidza. After a shuffling of opening acts that at one point included Willow Smith and then Dora Jar, Maidza stepped up as a replacement Saturday night in Atlanta the night before Charlotte, and continued with Eilish through Tuesday’s set in Pittsburgh.
Pulling from her Last Year Was Weird EP trilogy, Maidza had the crowd bumping and swaying within seconds thanks to her laid-back synth rhythms and playful interactions with the audience. The rapper took her under-the-radar status in stride, using the breaks in between songs to teach the crowd the lyrics. Transforming classic rock hits like the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” Maidza had the crowd more than warmed up for the main event.
After a 40-minute wait, 9 p.m. arrived and “Billie!” chants made their way around the arena. Eilish was eager to please. Fans only had to wait an extra five minutes before the artist kicked off her set with smoke machines, strobe lights, and an electric mashup of “Happier Than Ever” and “bury a friend.”
With the 15-track album Happier Than Ever earning Eilish seven Grammy nominations, she had plenty of material for the evening. With new songs making up half of the setlist, Sunday’s performance balanced the bangers and ballads in Eilish’s arsenal.
An early high came alongside the thumping bass, strobing lights, and Eilish’s never-ending bouncing during “you should see me in a crown,” but the night’s best moments may have come when Eilish toned down the energy. Midway through the set, FINNEAS, Eilish’s producer, co-writer and brother, stepped out from behind his keyboard and drum machine to take center stage alongside his sister for a stripped down version of “Your Power.” The two strummed their acoustic guitars while Eilish crooned and FINNEAS provided intimate background vocals.
The energy picked back up shortly after Eilish left the stage and took to the sky in a crane that escorted her around the arena for a four-song stretch– which included “ocean eyes,” Eilish’s first hit– before returning her to the stage for the finale. With phones and cameras raised throughout the entire evening, Eilish took some time late in her set to encourage fans to lower their screens and simply be in the moment. The result was the wistful track, “when the party’s over.”
Despite being surrounded by over 10,000 fans, Eilish’s vocals penetrated the arena, delivering a truly intimate moment, but her party was not over yet.
Songs “all the good girls go to hell,” “everything i wanted” and her iconic anthem, “bad guy,” ushered in the night’s grand finale: “Happier Than Ever.” Juxtaposing acoustic ballad and rock anthem, the titular track provided a sound as eclectic as Eilish’s catalog.
“bury a friend”
“I Didn’t Change My Number”
“Therefore I Am”
“my strange addiction”
“you should see me in a crown”
“Billie Bossa Nova”
“Everybody Dies” (live debut)
“Oxytocin” (with “COPYCAT” snippet)
“Your Power” (with FINNEAS)
“Male Fantasy” (acoustic)
“Not My Responsibility”
“when the party’s over”
“all the good girls go to hell”
“everything i wanted”
“Happier Than Ever”