Pop princess Ariana Grande wowed the sold-out crowd at KeyArena Tuesday with a show that was as much about glowing cat ears as it was about music.
Ariana Grande was all ears at KeyArena on Tuesday.
That is not a reference to musical acumen, but to the pointy, Halloween cat ears glued onto a headband the 21-year-old pop star has made iconic.
Grande wore several pairs of them during her 90-minute concert and sold them — $40 for glowing LED, $20 for lace — to her teen and tween fans.
Parents shelled out the money.
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The sea of lighted ears floated throughout the capacity crowd atop tiny ponytailed heads, changing colors from orange to blue to magenta. The colors were controlled by an app that could be downloaded with your purchase.
There was also a questionnaire. It was genius marketing. And it was also beautiful, the way the lights morphed through the crowd, making people look like sea anemones — a rave with training wheels, set to a Mariah Carey-esque soundtrack.
All through the concert, fire shot up from the stage and dancers were propelled into the air by trampoline-like platforms.
It was good that the business and spectacle were on point, because Grande did not move well and elbowed a dancer during “All My Love,” laughing through a chorus.
Vocally, her show was strong. She sold every melody and leaned hard into notes with no backup assistance.
She began with “Bang Bang,” Jessie J’s song that also features Nicki Minaj and followed with three more songs she has recorded with prominent guest rappers — “Hands On Me,” “Best Mistake I Ever Made” and “Break Your Heart Right Back.”
The guest-heavy set list emphasized from the get-go that Grande has a hard time carrying her own material. Either she needs a guest star to make her songs hits, or the backing track has to do a lot of the work. The latter was the case with her revved-up smash “Problem,” which the kids went nuts for.
The rest of the show was crammed with dance routines, an interlude by a string section and a big band-style jam with dancers enacting a vaguely Great Gatsby party scene. A long video message from singer Imogen Heap explained the voice-altering gloves Grande wore at one point, which transformed her voice into a harmonic chorus.
It was all very diversionary and techy, because that’s what pop music is.
And Grande proved she is the princess of it in 2015.