Khalid at the SSE Hydro – Free Spirit Tour

Khalid at the SSE Hydro on his Free Spirit tour (Credit: Jack Donnelly)

Khalid brought a chilled and soulful sound to Glasgow’s SSE Hydro on Friday night – but seemed to somewhat subvert audience expectations.

El Paso based R&B singer/songwriter Khalid Robinson returned to Glasgow with his Free Spirit tour. Having previously performed in the O2 Academy in February 2018 on his tour for his debut album, American Teen, Khalid upgraded on the venue and performed at the SSE Hydro for the first time.

Khalid is a global phenomenon at the mere age of 21. After his 2016 single Location was projected into the public consciousness on Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat story, Khalid went on to receive a plethora of awards and nominations, including being nominated in five different categories at the 2017 Grammy awards.

He has also been well recognized by his peers in the music industry, being able to collaborate with the likes of Billie Eilish, Calvin Harris and Shawn Mendes. Most recently, Khalid appeared on Ed Sheeran’s No.6 Collaborations Project, as a feature on the UK chart-topping Beautiful People – Sheeran went on to make a surprise appearance during one of Khalid’s two shows at the O2 Arena in London to perform the song.

There was a real buzz for this tour, as Free Spirit had topped the Billboard album charts in the US and Canada. Dressed in a black t-shirt and leopard print trousers, Khalid walked on the stage to raucous applause and cheering. A signature toothy grin plastered on his face, the man of the hour broke into Free Spirit before bringing the whole crowd in with 8TEEN, one of the most popular tracks from American Teen.

The crowd was somewhat divided at Khalid’s performance at the SSE Hydro on Friday (Credit: Jack Donnelly)

Khalid then welcomed the crowd and broke into the raw and emotional Saved, regarding it as ‘the song that changed his life.’ After this, Khalid focused on the more soulful side of Free Spirit, which is where he began to lose the crowd. As he crooned onstage, the younger members of the crowd would be talking amongst themselves or posing for photos – all seemingly waiting for a more upbeat and catchier tune.

This doesn’t mean that Khalid did himself a disservice. He performed beautifully, showcasing his incredible vocal range on every song – the high notes in particular prompting screams and cheers.

The second half of Khalid’s set was full of crowd favourites. He began with Location, during which his on-stage dancers showcased their individual talents to an appreciative crowd. The audience lapped up Marshmello and Disclosure collaborations Silence and Talk.

Khalid blended together Eastside, Love Lies and OTW  into a medley before leaving the stage – before his encore, of course. The biggest cheer of the night came when Khalid sauntered back onstage, brandishing a Scotland flag and sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Overall, Khalid’s performance was striking and enjoyable. While the differing natures of the crowd and his music led to a disconnect between performer and audience, this gig was by no means a misfire. The more laidback character of the Free Spirit album might have been better suited to a smaller, more intimate venue. But when you’re a global sensation, why perform anywhere else other than the biggest venues possible?

By Jack Donnelly