Demi Lovato Performing "Dynamite" in NYC
Live in Atlanta: Cobb Energy Performing Arts CentreShow Date:
December 1, 2011Opening Act:
We Are The Kings
With comfortable and accessible energy, Demi Lovato is in touch with her fan-base and performs like a seasoned veteran, showing she should not be underestimated because of her age or affiliation with Disney. Her stage set is still very basic and her performance time was a short 1 hour and 15 minutes (which is unusual compared to the last time I saw Lovato live), but these specs failed to make the show dissatisfactory. Lovato came out swinging with the pumped-up “All Night Long,” followed by the smokin’ “Got Dynamite” & “Hold Up.” The set-list was well-ordered and seamless from start to finish, including all of her hits, fan favorites and all but 4 tracks from her new album “Unbroken” (some of the omitted songs were performed at a meet & greet). A few older singles were not performed in their entirety, but they were finely interpolated to where the audience wouldn’t feel slighted and it didn’t come off like a cheap medley. Lovato’s most obvious weakness is choreography (it’s seems a bit unnatural for her), but the usual pop-rock singer performed her new techno-dance material with ease and the songs weren’t as awkward on her as they sounded on the record (see my “Unbroken” review: http://bit.ly/ue7sxl
"My Love is Like a Star" in ATL.
Never lip-synching, Demi’s vocals were stalwart & fantastic. Her background singers had equally great vocals & her band kicked butt (her bass guitarist was very cute on an unrelated note). To elaborate further on Lovato’s stage presence, she’s appears very in-tune with and focused on her music, unpretentious & professional. She also shows her chops as a musician, playing both piano and acoustic guitar before the show is over (although she played both instruments more often on her last tour). One of the best things you notice during her set is how connected she is to her fans. Addressing the audience frequently & sharing how fan support has helped her through her struggles with eating disorders, self-injury & bi-polar disorder, she easily builds a poignant rapport. During “Skyscraper,” her 1st song post-rehab, fans voluntarily held up small paper hearts available at merchandise tables in which you could write a message for the singer. Demi grabbed one up front that read “You Keep Me Strong” (see the clip below). It’s good to see that there is a young artist who has such a great connection with & positive influence on her fan-base. My only beef was that she left the stage in between almost every song, which is especially unnecessary if there aren’t many costume changes. Well worth the $60, a Demi Lovato concert is fun, entertaining & artistically valuable.
August 26, 2010- Chattanooga, TN-Mckenzie Arena
This was hands down the best concert I’ve ever been to (next to Destiny’s Child, of course). It was my first “rock concert”; if you can classify Maroon 5 as such, which is one of the band’s strong points- they almost CAN’T be classified as their sound is a well-blended one, using elements of rock, R&B and pop, among others. They didn’t fail to show their eclectic taste during their show, as they incorporated Alicia Keys and Tina Turner hits into their own. Unlike many other artists, Maroon 5 changed the musical arrangements to most of their songs, instead of playing the songs exactly as they are on the record. The arrangements were energetic, creative and left you desiring a live album. Not knowing much about the members of the band, I was impressed at their musicianship (by the way, all of the members play an instrument) and their vocal abilities (they harmonize soooooooooooooo well together; it was pretty darn sexy lol). They didn’t spare their instruments as they made an epic rock-out session out of every song. They were well received; the audience stood to their feet for ovations frequently and the roaring demand for an encore was searing (and very cool). They interacted well with the audience, using tongue-in-cheek humor and sing-along-sessions (front-man Adam Levine successfully got the audience to sing in 3-part harmony for “She Will Be Loved”-also very cool). My throat was beyond sore from screaming and I had a smile on my face for at least a week afterward. I would recommend seeing Maroon 5 live to anyone, even if they’ve never heard of them. I left wanting to buy all of their albums and do my research.
U.K. sprung artist V.V. Brown and “American Idol” Season 8 winner Kris Allen opened up for the band, putting on equally diverse-sounding shows. I thoroughly enjoyed Allen’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” and V.V.’s relaxed, friendly and uninhibited stage demeanor.
Vanderbilt University-Nashville, TN.
OMG, THIS SHOW WAS AMAZING.
But first, let me give credence to the opening act. Even if you hadn’t heard of him before, Roc Nation-managed artist, Wale, made you love him by the end of his set. Extremely personable, energetic and fervent, Wale stood out on his own and got my attention to the point where I will gladly go to one of his shows once he starts headlining. Ok, now for Jay-Z.
This is the second time I’ve seen Jay-Z live, and this show was even better than the last. As I learned at the 1st Jay concert I went to, he really knows how to make you hungry for his appearance. He likes to tease you. After Wale finished his set and the crew was done setting up, the lights dimmed and music blasted. People lost their minds instantaneously. Was he finally coming out? Nope. The lights came back on, and the jumbo screen displayed a clock counting down 10 minutes. Sike. You heard this giant “Aw” from the audience LOL. But at least we knew that in 10 minutes, he would actually arrive.
When the clock got to 00:00, the stadium went red, the roc signs were thrown up and people were chanting “HOVA” to the top of their lungs as the curtains pulled back showing the “Blueprint 3” album symbol and the King of Hip-Hop rose slowly from the floor to Rihanna’s opening bars of “Run this Town.” By the time he ran down the stairs to the front of the stage to rap his 1st verse, the crowd was already in high-gear spitting every word with him verbatim.
From that point on, the energy was never lost as he went on to perform for a little over two hours, covering most fan favorites and hits from half of his discography. With 14 albums, it can difficult for an artist like Jay-Z to leave no stone uncovered, but Jay did a magnificent job of hitting all the crucial points. More than half of the “Blueprint 3” was performed, some songs being only a verse, but that did not leave you unsatisfied. As a performer, Jay is elite, professional, focused and dedicated. He brings a certain class that sometimes isn’t seen at hip-hop shows. He takes everything he does seriously and you can see his love the art.
One thing I love to see at shows is interaction with the fans. Jay did plenty of this, taking time in the show to browse the floor and point out particular fans; even mentioning and emphasizing how many good looking women were in the house. Oh, jay. You flirt. Don’t have Bee tryna cut you LOL jk. He also expressed gratitude for fan support, stating that it’s a rare thing for a hip-hop artist to achieve what he has and break major records (like surpassing Elvis Presley for 2nd place on the most #1 albums list). Speaking of the fans, the most remarkable and fascinating aspect of a Jay-Z show is the energy. The fans are hardcore and unbelievably passionate; Jay himself made it clear at times that he was overwhelmed by what was being shown to him. This may not seem unique, but it is. At most concerts, you get an evenly mixed demographic of fans that include everyone from the newbies, to the luke-warm fans, to the flimsy, to the hardcore, and the people who are just there because a real fan made them come. Not the case at a Jay show.
80% are hardcore and serious- they know all the words, they’ve bought every album and magazine, attended every tour and could probably write Jay’s biography. The other 20% are made out of newbies who are on their way to being hardcore. The fans’ admiration and love for Jay is warming, and you can tell that it’s not just about Jay; these people are fiends for art of hip-hop. When you’re there in the mist of this unique adrenaline, you feel like you’re in a meeting for an exclusive club and you want to understand and know everything they do. You want to be a part of the energy and feel the same force. If you’re not a hardcore fan, you want to be. You feel like you’re missing out if you don’t become a member.
One of the things that cracked me up was the male fans. They seemed like excited little school girls watching Jay perform. The amount of guy love flowing from them was hilarious. Another funny thing was how hard these southern kids were singing “Empire State of Mind.” You would’ve thought you were in New York. Southern people are proud to be southern, so it cracked me up to see them go so hard for New York. Jay has such a way of pulling you into whatever he’s doing.
Another thing I love to see at shows (particularly hip-hop ones) is a jamming live band. Jay’s band never failed to rock hard. They really brought his music to life. The set design was impressive, balanced and highly functional. It wasn’t too simple, nor too elaborate. The graphics did all the work. Shown from one multi –panel screen, the graphics were relevant, creative, attractive and fitting for the show. All in all, definitely catch Jay on his next tour and check out Wale.
Greensboro Coliseum-Greensboro, NC
Whether you’re sitting up close or in the nose bleed seats, seeing Beyonce` live onstage is an amazing, unforgettable, breathtaking, euphoric auditory and visual experience that will leave you in awe and wanting more. As one concert-goer said after the show, “It was like a religious experience. That woman can perform. She really puts on a great show.” This is the 4th Beyonce` tour I’ve attended, and each time is just like the first. Beyonce` proves that she is a consummate performer focused on being a master of her trade, as she performs with an unwavering passion and energy that cannot be properly captured in a television performance.
The diva arrived from a behind a black curtain, walking through a thick cloud of smoke under a small spotlight. The crowd roared at the site of her silhouette. She then strikingly bulldozed through “Crazy in Love”, “Freakum Dress” (which her guitarists rocked hard as heck on), “Naughty Girl”, and “Get Me Bodied”, full on dancing and singing without ever losing a breath or sounding winded. After revving up the crowd, she effortlessly changed speed and slowed it down with “Me, Myself and I” and gave a wonderful mini-sermon about feminism and sisterhood (I love it when she does that). She then entered into her material from the 1st disc of her latest album, “I AM…Sasha Fierce”. The album’s concept is centered on revealing her more vulnerable and intimate side (Disc 1) and her introducing us musically to her alter-ego stage persona “Sasha Fierce” (disc 2). This concept was better illustrated on tour than it was on the album (see 11-18-08 album review).
For the disc 1 material, she re-appeared on stage singing “Smash Into U”, wearing an angelic-looking white bodice and hooded cape. Behind her was a video of a serene ocean whirlpool; the 1st of many effective visuals. Following “Smash” was “Ave Maria”, “Broken-Hearted Girl”, and “If I Were a Boy.” Her rendition of “Maria” was deeply moving and spectacular, as she displayed her vocal versatility and range with seamless tone-modulation and opera-like vocal styling. This performance negated any doubts about the beauty and strength of her voice. As mentioned earlier, the albums’ concept was illustrated well during the concert. Beyonce` performed the disc 1 songs with a raw, naked, openness that could have brought you to tears. All of the sudden you felt so close to her. You could tell that the audience felt very connected to her as they sung “Broken” and “Boy” with the same passion as she did. During “Boy”, Beyonce` gave us an appetizer of what was to come (i.e. Sasha) as she broke into Alanis Morisette’s edgy “U Oughta Know” with intense angst and bitterness, wearing a warrior-esque leather costume and pompously grabbing her crotch (yes, that actually happened). With such behavior uncharacteristic of her, you knew Sasha was coming.
Beyonce` left the stage, and a video began playing of a female robot walking through a blizzard to “Sweet Dreams.” The robot turned into a cheetah; then into Beyonce`. Or should I say Sasha Fierce? After a grandiose introduction by the band, Sasha went into the bouncy “Diva”, followed by “Ego” and “Hello”, wearing a costume with metal pieces. All of the Thierry Mugler-designed costumes were eye-catching. Her backup dancers were dressed as gold robots and moved in such a believable way, you had to look twice to make sure they were actually human. During this set, Beyonce` made a clear distinction between herself and her alter-ego. She was aggressive, sassy and arrogant, but it wasn’t a turn off, as the set was infused with feminism and power. Unlike on the album, Sasha was what she was supposed to be (again, see the 11-18-08 album review). Invincible and confident, she was a woman you could admire. After “Hello”, it was time for the band and background singers to do their thing. As if, Beyonce` hadn’t done enough to emphasize feminism, she commissioned an all female band. On their second tour with Bee, these musicians are immensely talented, impressive and fun. Each musician had their own amazing solo; a few doing some fun tricks. During the break, they played an eclectic set of songs; everything from Michael Jackson to Jimi Hendrix. The arrangements for Beyonce’s songs were unique and memorable (as they often are). The three glamorous, full-figured background singers (cutely called “The Mamas”) all had amazing voices and harmonized well together.
Once the band break was finished, the lights went down, jungle music played, and a gong was pushed out onto the stage. Another video started to play; Beyonce` was dressed as roman goddess, flipping a gold coin with her face on one side, Sasha’s on the other. Sasha shows up and catches the coin. As the coin lands on Sasha’s face, Sasha laughs and walks away. The gong is hit, and Beyonce’ gradually rises out of the stage floor, appearing as if she is on chair. The gold blanket around her drops; she is not on a chair after all. She’s flying. Over the audience, Beyonce` floated in a holster across to a mini-stage in the middle of the arena. She twirled in circles three times before landing. Once on the stage, she performed several songs, including “Irreplaceable”, which she allowed the audience to sing to her half way through. It must be awesome as a songwriter to hear thousands of fans singing a song you labored over, to point where you don’t have to. Beyonce` also performed a Destiny’s Child medley that the crowd seemed to really enjoy. After the medley, she returned to the main stage and had another costume change. A video documenting the civil rights movement played, and it ended with the inaugural ball of President Obama. Naturally, this led into “At Last”, which was followed by “Listen.” Then, the moment everyone had been waiting for: “Single Ladies.” As a precursor, an enjoyable video montage of all of the infamous YouTube renditions played. Then Beyonce’ performed the song and rocked it like she’d never performed the song before. Most of the audience was brave enough to mimic the video dance moves; most impressive was the 14 year old in front of me. Most hilarious was the 46 year old man across from me.
The show appeared to be over, but the hardcore fans noticed that “Halo” hadn’t been performed yet. Beyonce` took “Halo” as an opportunity for an encore and to interact with fans, as she walked the main floor, shaking hands. Once she got back to the stage she kept repeating the phrase, “I am”, ending the sentence with “I am…yours.” She then went on a rather poetic tangent about how her fans inspire her and how she strives to give a quality show no matter what. She attempted to leave the stage several times, each time coming back to say more to the audience, which didn’t seem pre-planned. As she said she strives to do, she put on a high-quality show. Heartfelt and fervent, Beyonce` bared her soul on the stage. She gave her all and you knew it. From the set design, to the band, to the performance, everything was done with care and work to leave you more than pleased. Beyonce` puts on the type of show that will turn semi-fans into hardcore ones, and skeptics into believers.
Overall pros: 1. Exposing her core fan base to different genres by weaving songs like “U Oughta Know” and Sarah Mclachlan’s “Angel” (Ave Maria) into the set (Last tour she interpolated Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, Jill Scott’s “He Loves Me” and Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend”).
2. Connecting with the fans by walking down on the main floor, throwing multiple accessories into the audience, allowing fans access to the corners of the stage/stairs, pointing out select fans and singing “Happy Birthday” to specific fans
Overall cons: maybe one too many costume changes.