Demi Lovato Live at BB&T Center: "I've Been Through a Lot"
Behind her full band, the screen showed some pretty clichéd shots of the singer swimming in slow motion with her bubblegum-pink hair floating about like a mermaid. It was the kind of video that you just know will be chopped up into artsy gifs on Tumblr.
As teens screeched about the arena, Demi finally appeared on a platform that rose from the depths of the stage's runway, clad in shiny black spandex pants with a craftily placed rip at the knee, a black shirt, and blazer with chains and pins. She made her tattoos visible; one that struck our notice was the trendy cross that people seem to be getting on their hands.
She even rocked a half-up, half-down cornrow Mohawk, which allowed her to thrash her head around with no restraint.
Her whole "image" was that of the punk-rocker of pop, though that idea didn't always translate in the songs she sang. Sure, many had an eff-you attitude, like the track "Got Dynamite," which was paired with a not-too-subtle montage of fire and explosions, as well as "Really Don't Care," which happens to sound remarkably like Icona Pop's "I Love It," made famous by its line "I don't care, I love it!"
But then there were many tender moments, like when she sat on the steps with her two backup singers and guitarist for an acoustic rendition of "Here We Go Again," which was nice but didn't fully go with what she was so obviously trying to give off.
Not to hate on the girl; she has a strong voice that stands out among the rest of the Disney copycats, but she did rely on her backup singers a lot and admitted that her throat wasn't at its best. She still shined through on the more emotionally charged songs like "Nightingale" and crowd favorite "Don't Forget."
The thing is, early on in the show, we hoped she wouldn't capitalize on the horrible things she'd gone through during her hiatus and prior. But as the night went on and clips of her in a suit of armor graced the screen, it felt as if her production team had decided that the "damaged girl overcoming hardship" was her "angle."
When she spoke to the audience about getting help for anything causing you harm, it felt real and most likely came from an honest and genuine place. But when her encore was introduced by a montage of newscaster clips announcing the news of her rehabilitation and her subsequent return and accomplishments, it seemed as if her story was driving the show more than the performance was.
Toward the end of the show, during her hit redemption song "Skyscraper," wearing a long black dress/robe/cloak thing, she rose about four feet off the stage on the same platform that brought her there, with angelic light shining over her as she belted the last notes.
Then, she was disrobed, implying that the cloak thing was her former sadness and without it she can be herself, wearing her initial getup.
When you think about that process being done every night on this tour -- the remembering of harsh times, the visualization of progress, and the celebration of health -- it seems more and more detrimental to the singer herself.
Constantly reliving personal pain in the form of a cheesy video and ugly dress simply to reinforce your "message" hardly seems like a good way to grow. It may be a good tale and moneymaker, but maybe it's the one thing holding her back.
New Party Rules for Millennials
10 Best Hipster Bars in Broward and Palm Beach Counties
Top 20 Sexiest R&B Songs from the '90s to Today
Top Five Things That Make New Kids on the Block's Donnie Wahlberg a Hipster
Ten Best Florida Metal Bands of All Time