When it comes to Disney stars, I’ve always fancied myself as a Hilary Duff kinda guy. I was about fifteen when Hilary’s pop career took off, and by the time Miley Cyrus mania rolled around, I was way too old to be getting down to Hannah Montana. But then Miley went through her bad girl metamorphosis and suddenly became cool, winning me over with the release of her Can’t Be Tamed album and impressing me with her live performances, so when she announced that Australia would be one of the few countries to see her Gypsy Heart Tour, I didn’t hesitate to buy a ticket.
As I took my seat between a beer-guzzling teenager and a pair of 12-year-old brats dressed like child prostitutes, I was a little unsure of what to expect. Then the lights came on, the music started, and out strutted Miley angrily shouting her way through “Liberty Walk” in an outfit that would probably make Rihanna blush, and I knew straight away that this was a girl who had something to prove.
The fireworks continued when Miley launched straight into fan favorite “Party in the USA”, which was met by a thunderous applause from the crowd. My jaw hit the floor when she started thrusting her crotch and shaking her ass during the chorus (she had already sworn during “Liberty Walk”), so by now it was pretty apparent that Miley was going to do whatever the hell she wanted to on stage, regardless of what the parents or critics had to say about it.
The concert kept rockin’ on with two more uptempos “Kicking and Screaming” and “Robot”, before Miley delved into the first of what would be several covers, a three-song medley of The Runaways‘ hits. The rebellious “Bad Reputation” and “Cherry Bomb” couldn’t have been more appropriate, and the classic “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” gave the parents and their kids something they could finally sing along to together.
Miley’s Poison cover “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” was next, and marked the first real ballad of the night. This is one of my favorite cuts from her album, but after seeing Miley do it live I love it even more. This girl can seriously sing, and an 80s rock power ballad like “Every Rose…” is virtually tailor made for her nasally voice. Miley really let loose at the end, singing with so much passion and conviction that I was seriously ready to wave my lighter in the air and sneak backstage to sleep with one of the roadies.
Another rock ballad “Obsessed” followed, with another stellar vocal performance from Miley. This was one of the few songs on the setlist I hadn’t heard before, but it didn’t even matter — Miley sold it, and not like a squeaky queen professional pop star, but like a real artist singing from the heart.
Much to my delight, she rolled out a third consecutive ballad “Forgiveness & Love”, before racing backstage for a costume change.
I admittedly zoned out for the next two songs “Fly on the Wall” and “7 Things”, but I was back on my feet for the catchy Can’t Be Tamed cut “Scars”. The next song was one that has been lighting up the Blogosphere since Miley’s tour began — her cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I think I was one of the only people in the arena who actually knew the song, but the awkward silence from the tween audience didn’t stop Miley from giving the performance her all. She did her best Kurt Cobain impression by thrashing her hair around and screaming angrily, and while it was a tad bemusing in parts, she sounded damn good and you could clearly tell that the song meant something to her, so you can’t really criticize her. You can’t fault a teenager for being a teenager, right?
Miley continued with another great ballad “Stay”, before heading backstage and returning moments later with a sexy new outfit to perform her raunchy hit “Can’t Be Tamed”. This song would’ve gone over better with some proper choreography, but it was still a fun performance and it got a huge reaction from the crowd. She followed it up with the last cover of the night, a beautiful rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” (the parents definitely appreciated this one).You could tell that she desperately wanted to be Stevie Nicks, and hearing her sing a song like “Landslide” in a glittery push-up bra was hilarious, but it worked.
The rest of the concert went along with smoothly with the catchy ballad “My Heart Beats for Love”, and the mega-hits “The Climb” and “See You Again”.
Miley wrapped the concert up in an exciting fashion with “Who Owns My Heart”. She performed the Europop thumper in a sexy red one-piece, racing around the stage with a bunch of backup dancers while the audience danced and sung along. It ended the concert on a high note, and I was humming along to the song for hours after it finished.
Miley really gets a lot of flack from the media and the public, but underneath all the scandal and controversy is a seriously talented and genuine young woman. The Gypsy Heart tour was clearly done on Miley’s terms, and she had a ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude from the get-go. The majority of the setlist was so obviously put together by Miley herself — Hannah Montana was nowhere in sight, and when Miley performed some of her older hits, you could tell it was only to please the crowd and to give herself an excuse to sing all the other songs that she wanted.
Not to say that the concert was perfect though — it was far from it, by any means. There was definitely a messy and awkward factor about the whole thing, like Miley had a serious chip on her shoulder and was trying to prove a point and make a statement, but I think that was also the beauty of it. It really captured who Miley is right now, reflecting all the good and bad aspects of those clumsy years when you’re transitioning from a teenager to an adult. It was, well, endearing.
When I watched Miley on stage, I didn’t see a Disney pop star — I saw a burgeoning artist. Once she makes the switch from pop to country and rock and starts singing the songs she was born to sing, she’s really going to be something special.