“I made out with a fan at my last show,” the child star-turned-21-year-old-bad-girl told the predominantly teenage audience. “I’m banned from making out with fans at my shows now because of my mom. She said I’ll get sick.”
The latest in a long series of events that has captivated critics and fans alike was Cyrus kissing a girl at the Las Vegas stop in her “Bangerz” tour. Call it an attention grab, call it a downward spiral, call it a phase, but it’s impossible to dispute the fact that Cyrus knows how to get a reaction out of the masses. The “Bangerz” tour is like the world of Sesame Street gone horribly wrong. Anyone who has (willingly or unwillingly) seen the headlines throughout her tour knows this. Cyrus paraded fluffy puppets, inflatable animals, ridable hot dogs, skimpy high-waisted shorts and leotards throughout the Pepsi Center on Tuesday. She spit on the crowd, and, yes, she did nasty things to a guy dressed as Abraham Lincoln (not Bill Clinton) during “Party in the U.S.A.”
She’s like any young adult — she tests the limits of her newfound freedom, but she still (supposedly) obeys her mom. She still wears her cowboy boots and still covers Dolly Parton — a throwback to her country roots and Disney days. But as interesting as her behavior is from a pop cultural aspect, the thing that matters is: does she sell tickets, does she have the talent to back up the ridiculousness?
To answer the first question, it would appear that — at least in Denver — Cyrus isn’t selling well. While the Pepsi Center was nearly full on Tuesday, days beforehand tickets were selling for basically nothing. Fans could grab up to four tickets for 75 cents each.
Now the second question, the more important question: Does she have talent? Cyrus was hit and miss on Tuesday. The biggest problem was the complete assault of a mix at the Pepsi Center, making it hard to differentiate any instrument from Cyrus’ voice. Her first chance to belt over the abysmal sound came a few songs in during “FU.” Played with a full band, the song is missing the whamp synth (or at least it seemed that way, given the sound). Cyrus nailed the chorus that switches quickly from cooing to full on power. Then again, while the crowd was distracted watching the Miley Cyrus brand “Kiss Cam,” the singer gave it her all, delicately singing “Adore You.” Her greatest performance came during the power ballad, “Wrecking Ball,” where she elevated the song to the shear forces that it deserves. Cyrus truly has a command of her voice, and when you can hear it, she’s quite impressive. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case.
Appearing sluggish on stage, most of her noticeable misses came during an interlude at the back of the arena, where Cyrus took a stab at a few covers while wearing a t-shirt depicting her own face. One of these was her version of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” (which Dylan fans will be happy to know that she admittedly “f***ed up”). Other covers included acoustic a country version of OutKast’s “Hey Ya” and Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness.” Both of these were far less interesting than the hickey you could clearly see on her neck. But for the most part, Cyrus was left barely audible at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday, which made it difficult to identify the quality of her voice and how often she sang with a backing track.
While average at best musically, you have to give Cyrus credit for her complete acceptance of absurdity. She’s capturing the essence of her millennial generation — pulling images from her own childhood TV shows, the colors, the fads and trends — and distorting, exaggerating and sexualizing it. This is weird, offensive, and in the most uncomfortable way, fascinating.
See our live chat during the Miley Cyrus show below:
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.