The pop star brought her elaborate show to Seattle’s KeyArena, with her concert pushing the 23-year-old in a bolder direction.
Pop sensation Ariana Grande’s fans know cat ears are her signature accessory. On Thursday night, many of these velvet ears cropped up in the sea of her Seattle concertgoers, like thousands of honorary crowns for the reigning queen of pop.
During her bombastic live performance at KeyArena, her doe-eyed flair bridged the distance between her Nickelodeon roots and the “dangerous” woman she’s become.
Grande got her start as a child actress, performing in the Broadway musical “13” and then, more notably, as Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s “Victorious,” and then the spinoff, “Sam and Cat.” Her singing debut was on the soundtrack to “Victorious.” She’s since released three studio albums, including last year’s “Dangerous Woman.”
Grande’s “Dangerous Woman Tour” pushes the 23-year-old in a bolder direction. Still, Grande’s fan base is largely preteen girls, the kids who watched her during her Nickelodeon days and love her to the point of obsession.
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“I know she’s allergic to shellfish and cats,” said 13-year-old Seattle fan Britney Sanchez, whose mother surprised her with concert tickets. “Her voice is so powerful and strong,” Sanchez said.
Sinking deeper into Grande’s vocal range and steamy lyrics, the show runs on layered beats that often combine EDM and synth-y washes with reggae offbeats and R&B bass and elaborate, prop-heavy performances.
For the bouncy single “Side to Side,” the stage was transformed into a gym complete with a punching bag, rings and mirror. Grande emerged from the floor pedaling an exercise bike and then dancing among the equipment with shirtless male dancers. During “Greedy,” a lyrically lustful track with an old disco groove a la Rose Royce’s “Carwash,” dollar-bill ticker tape fell from the rafters. Later, pink balloons fell during “Sometimes,” and audience members tossed them around the arena.
Grande and her openers weren’t afraid to be outspoken.
Singer Victoria Monet, the first opening act, prefaced her song “Better Days” by saying, “We all need something right now in this crazy time.” The next act, four-woman super group Little Mix, performed their LGBTQ anthem, “Secret Love Song,” to the dancing crowd. Grande sang “Thinking Bout You” with depictions of straight and same-sex couples projected on the screen.
“Dangerous Woman” was saved for the finale. Grande, standing powerfully in a floor-length black, leather dress, left the stage blowing kisses at the audience.
“Thank you,” she said. “I love you.”