Review: Ariana Grande delivers vocal pyrotechnics in Vancouver
Ariana Grande performs in Vancouver in 2015 this CTV file photo (Kenny Tai/CTV)
Published Saturday, March 25, 2017 12:45PM PDT
The future may be female, but girls run the world of pop already. We’ve suspected that since Beyoncé made the official proclamation six years ago, but the meteoric rise of Ariana Grande has removed any doubt. Friday night’s virtuoso display of vocal brilliance at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena was merely another successful stop on her ‘Dangerous Woman’ Tour and the Western Canadian leg of her journey to ultimate global domination.
Not that she had much persuading to do. The crowd was in exuberant spirits before Grande even appeared, cheering at a ten-minute warm-up video with art-house camerawork that did little but observe her astonishing prettiness. By the time she actually graced the stage, emerging with a troupe of black-clad, voguing dancers for “Be Alright,” her triumph was complete.
Eschewing the grand stage sets and elaborate production pieces of many of her pop contemporaries, Grande’s opening was the model of restraint. The only notable visual effect of the opening half hour came in the form of elegant columns of light dropping from the ceiling, turning the floor of Rogers Arena into a temporary nave of a cathedral, during “Let Me Love You.”
Instead of spectacle, Grande chose to focus on her music, in particular, her astonishing vocal abilities. Her singing, impeccable from the very start, rose to the stratosphere during “One Last Time,” “Touch It” and “Leave Me Lonely,” a remarkable series of performances that ended with Grande swaggering off through the huge curtains in centre stage like she owned the place. By that point, she effectively did.
Never a big talker (Grande’s entire stage banter consisted of the obligatory welcome “Y’all ready to have a good time tonight Vancouver?” and multiple confirmations of how much she loved everyone as the show drew to its end), she let her show do the talking, and it still had plenty to say. During the second intermission of the night words offering contrasting views of femininity were projected across the stage curtains. The one repeated phrase, applicable to all of them, “Not Asking For It.”
Grande and her dancers re-emerged on spin bikes for “Side To Side,” a fun introduction to the most party-friendly section of the show. Minutes later the curtains opened to reveal a razor-sharp four-piece band. There would be small moments of production flare from here on (a balloon drop during “Sometimes” and the return of the dancers armed with glowing quarterstaffs for the finale of “Problem” and “Into You”), but the show’s final third focussed on the music. At its centre remained Grande’s impeccable singing, its precision and power streets ahead of her pop princess competition.
She emerged alone for the encore of “Dangerous Woman,” a song so gloriously cinematic it deserves its own James Bond movie, and the entire evening climaxed with Grande duelling with her guitarist, his shredding solo barely a match for her vocal gymnastics.
As a party, Rogers Arena has seen wilder many times. That’s not what this concert was about. Underneath the extravagant eyelashes burns the soul of a brilliant musician. What a voice.