One of the better outfits seen walking into Consol Energy Center Monday night was a blank tank top with white letters that said it all: “RIP Hannah Montana.”
The girl wearing it, like a lot of the girls in the house, probably saw Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana on this same street six years ago.
Hannah didn’t swear. Hannah wore pants, skirts — you know, real clothes — and if Hannah did anything close to twerking, it was purely by accident.
The 21-year-old Miley is a super freak who promised Bangerz and delivered big time, beginning with her slipping down a slide fashioned after her impressive tongue showcased at the MTV VMAs — the tongue, that is — and landing on her white cowboy boots. She was dressed in the first of a series of thong suits borrowed perhaps from the backstage of a Vegas strip club as she broke into “SMS (Bangerz).”
She was surrounded by furries the likes of which we’ve seen at the convention center and recent dance-pop spectacles from Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Miley has even more crazy/fun/youthful energy and relates to fans — about 10,000 screaming ones Monday night — in a more flat-out, I’m-your-party-girl style while also talking to them like BFFs. (She’s very natural about throwing asides into the songs as she’s picking up homemade signs.)
If you liked “Bangerz,” her fourth album, issued last fall, it was a plus because she covered all 13 songs, top-loading the show with 10 of them. They included an electro-hoedown, “4x4,” that had her band rising from the floor, a raved-up “Love Money Party” on top of a metallic gold car with a giant Big Sean character and a knockdown-dragout “FU” with a show-stopping cabaret vocal. “Do My Thang” had the place jumping like a roadhouse dance floor. She broke the streak going back one album for hard rocker “Can’t Be Tamed.”
In recent years, Miley’s provided reasons not to like her, but those do not include her voice. She’s a real singer and got to flash her big, slightly nasally pipes on ballad “Adore You” (with lots of love on the kiss-cam) and on the trippy, majestic cover of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” she styled with The Flaming Lips.
During an erotic Gaga-like video of her dancing to Alt-J’s “Fitzpleasure,” she moved to the B stage in a Miley nightie for her “favorite part of the show”: a stripped-down cover session that featured The Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” a song she has no ability to sing (who messes with Morrissey?) and Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” (still uneven but better). She was most at home going full-on Tennessee twang on godmother Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
After kicking back into party mode to close the set with “On My Own” and bombastic power ballad “Someone Else,” Miley, sporting a furry yellow jacket, made her dramatic exit, hilariously, flying over the crowd on a giant wiener, letting her voice soar to the highest levels.
She came back for smash hit “We Can’t Stop,” in a bizarre dance with a “little person,” and a “Wrecking Ball” that shook the rafters. She returned in a patriotic get-up to put the icing on the cake by dancing with the Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell and Mount Rushmore, with confetti cannons and streamers going off on a garish “Party in the U.S.A.”
Definitely not a Nashville party. Just another over-the-top dance-pop extravaganza but one with a wacky sense of humor, a few artful musical gestures and big-voiced playful star who seemed thrilled to be there.
Clever British indie-pop star Lily Allen opened as a track act with a DJ and dancers, which was a pretty mall-show-like approach to presenting her quality songs.
“Love Money Party”
“Maybe You're Right”
“Do My Thang”
“Can't Be Tamed”
“Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” (Beatles cover)
“Rooting for My Baby”
“There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (The Smiths cover)
“Summertime Sadness” (Lana Del Rey cover)
“Jolene” (Dolly Parton cover)
“On My Own”
“We Can't Stop”
“Party in the U.S.A.”
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg.