With a plethora of pop stars at our disposal these days it is easy for some to rise to fame without much talent—at least not compared to some of their peers. Ariana Grande is simply not one of those people.
The Dangerous Woman Tour kicked off in Phoenix, Arizona in February and has been traveling virtually non-stop ever since. Monday night’s stop in Denver offered Colorado State University students the opportunity to see a true pop music icon take the stage.
Grande’s concert began with a slightly awkward and forgettable performance from Victoria Monet, a pop-R&B fusion artist with obvious talent, but an inability to produce a crowd-hyping hit as of yet. It seemed as if she was neglected by the tour as she was given no dancers or backup vocalists, but only a transparent sheet to wave in the breeze above her head for several minutes. Next came girl group Little Mix, continuing the opening act with several of their infectious pop jams including mashing up “Hair” with Willow Smith’s “Whip my Hair” for a surprisingly catchy performance.
When Grande finally made her way onto the stage it would have been an understatement to call the audience’s reaction ballistic. Men, women, children, adults and everyone in between was obviously smitten with Ari and enthusiastically welcomed her to the stage with a gusto too genuine to be overly common.
Her performance itself was interesting as well. When attending a concert put on by one of today’s biggest stars you would expect a grandiose spectacle that defies all logic and expectations—basically one big party. Ariana Grande, however, offered a different take on her career and image, bringing together elements of rhythm & blues, hip-hop, 1970s disco concerts and Grande’s signature pop. Sprinkle in a few baggy jackets and some influence from classic Hollywood films and you have got yourself a Grande old time.
From her recordings it is clear that Grande is a talented vocalist, but what you hear on Spotify hardly compares to her live vocals. She will pepper her songs with runs and trills that make the earworms that are her songs that much stronger. Alternative bass-dropping versions of some of her lighter material also offered a renewed catalog to fans that are inundated by her music on the radio.
While Grande did not spend much time addressing her adoring audience she made up for it by never missing a single beat, even when she rapped along to Nicki Minaj’s part in “Bang Bang,” of which Grande performed a cover that was easily the highlight of the night. Grande also took advantage of her stage to preach messages of feminism and equality during songs, proving that she is not a mindless drone of the music industry, but one with a real message to share with her fans.
The show finished on a high note with Grande returning to the now stage to perform “Dangerous Woman.” Surrounded in flames and lighting effects that perfectly summed up the show, it exhibited the very best of Grande and her team and reminded us all that she is not to be topped.
Collegian reporter Nate Day can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NateMDay.