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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Grownup Miley thrills, moves audience of girl teens

It was one big girls-night-out at SM Mall of Asia on Friday, as teen pop superstar Miley Cyrus’ “Gypsy Heart Tour” made its sole Asian stop in Manila.
The Mall of Asia concert ground was literally a sea of teens in their four-inch heels, and eight-year-olds decked out in bright outfits being photographed by their equally stylish moms.

Seated in front of me were three bespectacled girls who didn’t look a day over 10. They had glittery guitars painted on their cheeks, and wore homemade shirts that said, “I’ve got the Cyrus virus!” They seemed the most pumped of all the kids that night, hoisting their posters and shouting “We want Miley!” every so often.

The trio had to hold in their excitement a little longer, though, as front acts Sam Concepcion and Elmo Magalona took the stage to set the night’s mood. While the kids were generally disinterested, their older counterparts rose to their feet and gushed over the local heartthrobs who sang, danced and rapped to Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never.”

Miley’s entrance was without theatrics or fancy stage work, her mere presence on stage was enough to make the crowd erupt into ear-splitting shrieks. Even the office people from a nearby building strained through their windows to catch a glimpse of the 18-year-old rock star.

Channeling a rocker chick vibe in her white embellished jacket and black leather hot pants, Miley kicked off the show with the bold beats of her female empowerment anthem, “Liberty Walk,” which saw her rapping some verses.
When her five-piece band followed up with the opening strains of “Party in the USA,” Miley took off her jacket revealing a racy studded bra. She darted across the stage–grinding and thrusting her hips whenever she sang the words “Moving my hips like yeah!” Needless to say, all the kids and teens were up jamming with their idol.

A few parents were visibly taken aback upon seeing Miley’s dance moves. Perhaps they were expecting to see the innocent Disney girl they used to watch on one of the world’s most successful teen franchises, “Hannah Montana.” But Miley had long shed her schmaltzy ‘tween image to explore her sexier, more mature side. And this concert, more than anything, showed just how much she had come into her own.

After giving the crowd a few more rock and dance-ready tunes like “Robot” and “Kicking and Screaming,” Miley slowed the show’s tenor with a restrained cover of Poison’s power rock ballad, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” She sustained the somber mood with heartfelt performances of her own ballads, “Obsessed” and “Forgiveness and Love.”

She then tackled one crowdpleaser after another in her set, which included her 2008 pop rock single “7 Things,” “Fly on the Wall,” “Scars,” and “Two More Lonely People.”

Aside from her original songs, Miley also paid homage to some of her idols in the music biz. She did a fair rendition of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ’n Roll,”

“Cherry Bomb” and “Bad Reputation,” but lacked sufficient edge to give justice to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” She redeemed herself when she reverted to her country roots with a nuanced performance of Stevie Nick’s “Landslide.”

Miley’s performance on “Can’t Be Tamed” proved to be a visual spectacle with a flurry of colored lights and topnotch dancing from her backups. With the controversial music video being displayed on the giant LCD screen, Miley, who had changed into a purple outfit with matching walking stick, displayed her exceptional command of the stage as she worked the crowd to raucous cheers.

Miley’s singing voice has received significant flak over the years for being nasal and fragile. But during her performance of “The Climb” from “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” she showed her mettle, hitting all the inspirational ballad’s challenging passages and high notes. Even more commendable was that she managed to do this at the end of her set that lasted more than one and a half hours.

To shouts of “more, more,” Miley returned in a red-hot costume and sang three more songs—
See You Again,” “My Heart Beats For Love” and “Who Owns My Heart.”

Earlier, Miley thanked the crowd for their amazing support, telling them: “I hope you guys will walk away inspired to do whatever you guys want to do in your life. Everything starts with a dream.”


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