“I would love to see you guys make out for this next song,” said Miley Cyrus Sunday at the Tacoma Dome, introducing “Adore You,” a vulnerable ballad off her smash album “Bangerz.”
Kissing broke out throughout the arena as the influential, 21-year-old pop star belted out the tune in her countryish alto. Cell phones waved like lighters in the crowd. It was a lovely moment.
The most popular part of her 90 minute set, though, was the hip-hop-esque party anthem “We Can’t Stop.” During the song, one of Cyrus’ backup dancers, very short, was dressed like a lit marijuana joint, and the other dancers surrounded her as if they were human hands gripping lighters. The whole arena screamed every word to the song.
That’s the way of Cyrus — sometimes emotionally deep, but mostly goofy and tactically shocking. There was a rebel energy to her whole set, which thrilled tens of thousands of look-alike fans at the Dome with a hit parade including “Wrecking Ball,” “SMS (Bangerz),” a lengthy version of “My Darlin’,” and “23,” a rap song about being high on marijuana in a nightclub environment while wearing Nike Air Jordans. A chunk of the audience wore Chicago Bulls gear to exactly match Cyrus in the music video for “23.”
Going against conventional pop star wisdom, the stagecraft lacked any major pyrotechnics. Cyrus instead made brilliant use of a video screen behind her, with primary and secondary color fields simple but effective. There were also animations by the cartoonist John Kricfalusi, who made MTV’s “Ren & Stimpy” in the ‘90s — about a couple of characters on a dazed journey.
Since Cyrus is on her own kind of bizarre ride, and loves the cartoony side of life, that resonated. Hammering home her love of stonedness or perhaps just weirdness, she also rode a giant hot dog and frolicked with furry monsters.
Cyrus plays crazy but is a trendsetter. The way she mixes country music melodies with electronic dance music and hip-hop, for example, is currently being copied by Ke$ha, another artist on pop radio. But something about how Cyrus sold her huge gestures at the Dome came off as pure. Perhaps she sets trends because on some level she’s just being who she is.
Toward the end of the show, in a sympathetic gesture, Cyrus set up a second stage in the back of the arena to play acoustic songs for the cheap seats. Fans in that area got a faithful rendition of Dolly Parton’s country classic “Jolene,” and a folksy version of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!,” two beautiful songs delivered simply and with feeling.
For more photos, check out the gallery.