Miley Cyrus @ Barclays Center 4/5/2014
SMS (Bangerz) / 4×4 / Love Money Party / My Darlin’ / Maybe You’re Right / FU / Do My Thang / #GETITRIGHT / Can’t Be Tamed / Adore You / Drive / Rooting for My Baby / You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go / Summertime Sadness / The Scientist / Jolene / 23 / On My Own / Someone Else // We Can’t Stop / Wrecking Ball /// Party in the USA
What the hell do I say about this? I feel like in a lot of ways you’re better off looking through my Instagram to get a sense of what it was like to see this show. It’s thoroughly brilliant on a visual level – in some ways very Tumblr and in other ways very Tim & Eric, and far more indebted to the work of Jeff Koons than anything Lady Gaga has ever done. It’s overwhelming, surreal and ridiculously fun, but also very emotional. Cyrus has a fantastic voice and is an extremely charismatic performer, and knows how to dial back the spectacle and do justice to the ballads in her set. The only song in the set that had no major visual component was “Wrecking Ball” because why the hell would you get in the way of that song, or specifically that chorus?
I figure that a majority of the people who are going to see Miley Cyrus on this tour have never been to a concert before. This is such an amazing first concert experience to have, but it sets up such unreasonable expectations of other shows, both in terms of glorious bizarre spectacle, and the intense enthusiasm of the audience. I’ve seen quite a lot of stuff over the years, and honestly, this was second only to Nine Inch Nails’ Tension and Lights in the Sky shows in terms of being a complete work of art, both in terms of musical performance and visual design. I’m going to be thinking about this show for a long time.
The last time I wrote about Miley here I had to literally flip a coin to decide whether I was going to write about “My Darlin’” or “Do My Thang,” which are my two favorite songs in her catalog. “My Darlin’” won, and I wrote about how thoroughly heartbreaking it is. But “Do My Thang” is easily in the highest echelon of my favorite recent songs; I have listened to it a fairly ridiculous number of times over the past seven or eight months. I think of this song as being the essence of Bangerz-era Miley – in terms of genre, it’s bouncing all over the place and shouldn’t work on a structural level, but yet it does. (The concert arrangement brings bluegrass into the equation to make it even more dizzying.) I really love her voice on the rapped parts – she’s very good with expressive inflection and brings a LOT of character to rhymes that would otherwise be kinda meh. I wish I knew how many times I’ve rewinded to hear her do that “I’m a southern belle, crazier than hell” part over and over. It’s a high number.
But as with a lot of Miley’s music, the bonkers stuff sits side by side with some very intense emotion. This song turns on a dime to big, belty balladry, and at least half the time sounds like Adele if she had a “bad bitch” mode. The beauty of what Miley is doing right now lies in how well she fuses irony with raw, earnest emotion, to the point that it often seems like there’s no fusing at all. It all just exists in the same continuum and nothing contradicts anything. Silly enthusiasms, sexual displays, romantic yearning – it all overlaps here, just as it does in our lives.