Ariana Grande kicked off her her first of two nights at Sydney’s ICC by telling fans “we’re gonna be alright”. The powerhouse pop star is currently embarking on her first Australian tour, and it was worth the wait.
Grande opened the show with fan favourite ‘Be Alright’. The highly choreographed number, featuring 10 back up dancers, was reminiscent of Madonna’s iconic ‘Vogue’ Choreography. Grande then played through a bevy of tracks from 2016’s ‘Dangerous Woman’, including ‘Everyday’, ‘Bad Decisions’, ‘Let Me Love You’, ‘Knew Better’ and ‘Forever Boy’.
‘One Last Time’, a personal favourite, sent fans into an eruption or roaring. The track became one of Grande’s most famous anthems earlier this year after the tragic events that took place at her Manchester performance. The lighting and staging production here was stripped bare allowing her vocals to be the main focus. Grande’s soaring vocals continued on through tracks ‘Touch It’ and a highlight of the night, ‘Leave Me Lonely’.
‘Side to Side’ saw the pop star bring her famous video to life, with a staging set up full of gym equipment. Grande then used Nicki Minaj’s verse on the track to transition into their song with Jessie J, ‘Bang Bang’. ‘Greedy’, ‘Focus’ and ‘I Don’t Care’ followed next.
One of my personal favourite moments from the show was ‘Moonlight’. The dreamy synthesised track saw Grande kneeling at the end of her runway giving one of the best vocal performances she gave throughout the show. Grande then played through re-imagined versions of her hit singles ‘Love Me Harder’ and ‘Break Free’. ‘Sometimes’ saw the crowd sent into a frenzy as pink balloons fell into the crowd. This was followed up by another stepped bare performance, ‘Thinking Bout You’. These more visually demure moments proved to be the standout moments that really showcased Grande’s vocals.
Grande then paid tribute to fans who lost their lives at the Manchester Attack by performing the famous ‘Over The Rainbow’. Towards the end of the song you could see Grande’s raw emotion as she fought back tears.
Grande then performed, what most call her breakout single, ‘Problem’. Another one of her hits that was reimagined for the tour. Grande moved through bright blue neon poles performing a more darker version of the song. The came time for the finale, Grande’s 2016 hit single, ‘Into You’. The track saw Grande and her dancers dancing throughout the stage before she blew the crowd away with those high notes at the end of the track. Grande thanked the Sydney crowd before disappearing into the stage.
Minutes later Grande reappeared for an encore performance of ‘Dangerous Woman’. The vocal powerhouse stood elevated with her band before giving the highlight performance of the night. If there was any doubt, unlikely, of Grande’s vocal abilities, her final song blew those out the window. Grande thanked Sydney again one last time before leaving the stage while her amazing band played the performance out.
While Grande proved her vocal abilities are unparalleled in contemporary pop, the Australian tour saw a reduced staging setup to that of the international dates. This may have to do with the location, the International Convention Centre. The small venue definitely impacted the show, as well as how steep the seating was arranged. The lighting also proved problematic at times as it was sometimes so dark and dim you could barely see the pop star.
Overall, Grande delivered a stellar performance for her first ever concert in Sydney, exactly three years to the day after she made her first performance on Australian soil at The X Factor Australia in 2014.