How did I end up in the audience at a stop on Demi Lovato’s Neon Lights tour, you ask? A persuasive sister and an opening group that doesn’t yet headline tours this side of the Atlantic. I don’t often attend concerts where I have no attachment to the main event, but there I was, surrounded by floods of Lovatics. And in many cases, their parents.
The powers that be behind this tour didn’t want the audience to be bored for a second—rather than the traditional stadium tunes through the sound system before it began, DJ Cole Plante provided some preshow entertainment. Best known for his appearance on MTV’s Teen Wolf aftershow Wolf Watch, Plante unfortunately introduced me to that heinous “#Selfie” song, but made up for it with a remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful.”
Next we were introduced to Collins Key, a combination magician/hype man from America’s Got Talent. While I found him turning a Demi fan’s dollar bill into a backstage pass charming, almost everything he did seemed unnecessarily drawn out. This can mostly be attributed to how often he beckoned the audience to shout “No way!” and blasted the chorus of “I Love It” by Icona Pop.
The first opener was Fifth Harmony, a girl group that came out of the first season of American X-Factor. They took the stage in separate dollhouse-like structures for their first song, “Me & My Girls.” Their dancing, while at times coordinated, didn’t flow together—the girls seemed as if they were doing separate performances near one another rather than working as a cohesive unit. However, I must say that they have vastly improved from when I saw them on The X-Factor, specifically when it came to harmonizing. They became more comfortable as the set went on, ending with a cover of Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women (Part One)” and their first single, “Miss Movin’ On.”
After another magic trick break from Collins Key, Little Mix owned the stage. The girls showed off their powerhouse voices with each of their singles, including their recently released cover of Cameo’s “Word Up.” They also performed a refreshing cover of En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go.” “How Ya Doin?” was performed a cappella and featured Jesy’s beatboxing. Their dancing was sharp and their singing was fierce the whole way through.
After another transition from magic man Collins Key (which I admittedly skipped), Demi Lovato made her entrance. She opened her set with the first single off of Demi, “Heart Attack,” which she knocked out of the park. Lovato brings a ton of energy to the stage, along with a surprising amount of vocal power, though her back up singers do hold some of her longer notes. The audience went crazy for “I Really Don’t Care,” during which her back up singers took the place of Cher Lloyd. I’d be curious to see whether Cher Lloyd took over now that she’s one of the openers.
As if there wasn’t enough excitement amongst fans, Lovato reappeared on stage with Nick Jonas and two acoustic guitars. They performed “Stop the World,” “Catch Me,” and “Here We Go Again.” The two work beautifully together, and by the end of the three songs I was convinced that they should create a musical duo, a la Scarlet and Gunner from ABC’s Nashville. Only less country, more former Disney-stardom. After Jonas left the stage, Demi picked up the tempo with a few more songs from Demi. “I’m just so excited!” she said, giggling and smiling all over.
Before her performance of “Warrior” on the piano, Lovato gave a short speech about wanting to use her public voice for good, which included pleading with kids to ask for help if they need it and with parents to encourage open discussion with their kids about tough subjects. From there she moved on to “Let it Go,” which was fine, though incomparable to the Idina Menzel version. After “Don’t Forget,” a retrospective was shown on screen, taking the audience through Lovato’s entire show biz career starting with her Disney days.
The closer before the break was the the high energy new single “Neon Lights.” The stadium’s screens spelled out “TAP THAT APP,” an action that turned every phone equipped with the Demi Lovato app into a mini strobe light. This was simultaneously really cool from a marketing standpoint and completely unfortunate from an innocent bystander standpoint, being the temporarily blinded victim of a young fan’s iPhone.
The encore opened with a sizzle reel of media clips that detailed Lovato’s stepping into rehab a few years ago. She then performed two singles from Unbroken—a very dramatic version of “Skyscraper” and a casual, straightforward version of “Give Your Heart a Break.” The last song was good, though personally I would have preferred the higher energy “Heart Attack” or “Neon Lights” as the ending to the show.
While I could have done with fewer magician antics, the musical performances on the Neon Lights were pretty solid. Fifth Harmony still has some improvements to make, but have made major strides since their X-Factor days. Little Mix was flawless and I can’t wait for them to headline their own tour in the United States. Demi Lovato’s energy and positive spirit made her a delight to watch. She obviously loves her fans and has a lot of fun singing—her performance proves it.