Miley Cyrus (+ Metro Station) “Wonder World” Tour concert reviewSeptember 23, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Posted in Metro Station, Miley Cyrus, Music, _live performances | 6 Comments
YES I WENT TO SEE MILEY CYRUS LAST NIGHT. DON’T JUDGE ME XDDDD
I actually like her music – not a huge rabid fan of it, but I was curious as to how she’d sound live. I originally booked tickets for this concert because a friend of mine wanted to go as well, but something came up last minute and I ended up going myself.
Anyhow, the concert wasn’t as bad as I had dreaded it to be (I did preview a few lives on YouTube). It had its highs and lows…and Yoruko actually brought a pen and notecards to the concert to take notes for this review. So read on :)
*note: the pics in the post are NOT mine – they were taken from a news article…though I can’t remember which one
The venue was Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, which already brought back memories of jarring concert performances – the acoustics in that stadium aren’t that great. I’ve been to a Celine Dion concert, and while Celine’s voice is AMAZING, I remember covering my ears on more than one occasion due to the loudness/echoing of the music.
This time, I sat somewhere near the very back, next to a mother and her eight-year-old daughter. The girl (I think her name was Stephanie) was an avid Hannah Montana fan, and kept talking to her mom about the show. I’ve watched Hannah Montana a bit myself – a former classmate of mine is in the show – and when I brought up that fact, little Steph’s eyes grew really wide. Haha, kids are so cute.
Anyhow, the concert started not long after I sat down, and the opening act was Metro Station – the band fronted by Miley’s brother, Trace, and Mason Musso (the older brother of Miley’s HM costar, Mitchel).
The woman I mentioned had binoculars (I think she may have rented them so her daughter could look at the concert) and she kindly offered them to me a few times. The first thing I realized was that Trace Cyrus is just as skinny in real life as he looked in photos…which was kind of scary. And he was wearing pants so tight I didn’t think they were humanly possible. I mean, I thought my roommate’s boyfriend had really tight emo jeans but…Trace was practically wearing pantyhose!
I was rather fond of Metro Station’s brand of synth-pop (they somehow evoke hellogoodbye for me despite the differences in style). The first two songs they played were “Wish We Were Older” and “California” – the latter no doubt dedicated to their home state and the venue location. “Wish We Were Older” had a nice “whoa, oh whoa” chorus but I’m pretty sure the lyrics made a few parents raise their eyebrows, hoping their kids didn’t understand them. A strong performance of two solid songs.
“Now That We’re Done” came next and the cracks began to show. While Mason Musso’s belting is nice, he gets pitchy and weak on the falsetto notes. This song itself was also kind of bland. Thankfully, Trace saved the day by announcing “Kelsey” which had a lot of fangirls screaming because of his little speech about the women in California being the most beautiful in the world and he was dedicating this song to all the girls in LA, no matter what their names were, etc. “Kelsey” was pretty, making me wish they’d do a few more songs like this.
The next one was “Japanese Girl” – something they wrote in Tokyo while touring. I was afraid that it might be a bit racist and stereotypical and also the kind of gaijin viewpoint on Japan (*cough* Gwen Stefani) but I couldn’t really hear the lyrics properly anyways. The vocals were okay, but the composition and melody were cool – I especially loved Blake’s (the keyboardist’s) intro – the Oriental-inspired synth melody was a nice touch. Metro Station then performed “Tell Me What to Do” which segued into “Control”…both were a bit too same-y and didn’t really capture my attention. They seemed to have some trouble getting the crowd’s attention since Trace had to keep yelling out for the audience to dance to their songs because…his little sister (whom all the girls wanted to see) was coming onstage soon. I pretty much zoned out until…
“Seventeen Forever”. There’s nothing too stand-out about this song, but I liked it. I guess it was the only one at their set that had actual nostalgic vibes. They ended with “Shake It“, their trademark song, and admittedly, the only one of theirs I really remembered the words and tune to. It’s their catchiest to date but alas, it was surprisingly underwhelming live. Anthony (the drummer) kept missing a beat here and there and Trace’s vocals were off pitch during most of the verse (in fact, it sounded more like he was shouting it instead of singing it). Chorus was decent, but I wish they would have put a bit more energy into it. At least this made me smile, since I recalled a very crack Pandora Hearts AMV using the song (*had images of Oz being a flirt throughout the chorus*).
There was an intermission, and the woman sitting next to me started telling me how surprised she was that Metro Station was the “warm-up band” for Miley Cyrus. I clarified by mentioning Trace and she thought that was awfully sweet of Miley to let her brother come on tour with her. She also said that Metro Station was most likely targeted toward an older crowd, like 21+ which made me laugh a bit (since they seem to cater more to the older teen crowd?). She also mentioned she could picture them in a club in Hollywood, but not in a big venue like this because they weren’t “musically good enough to be with Miley Cyrus” – I was tempted to say something cynical, but I didn’t want to shatter the dreams of her little daughter…
When the lights dimmed again, I think I was more deaf from the screams of all the 8~12 year-olds in the stadium than from the overly loud music. I always knew fangirls were scary, but YOUNG fangirls are worse – the screams are higher by an octave or something.
Miley did have a really good stage entrance – there was this huge block of faux ice, and she started singing slowly. When she got to the chorus, the music sped up and the stage lights came on (red, yellow, and orange) and I recognized the song – “Breakout”. I couldn’t hear her during the verses but the chorus was energetic, and she hit all the notes fine. The visuals throughout the entire concert were great – “Breakout” had flames in the TV screen panels behind Miley framing the faces of her and her band. Great opening song, and great way to set the theme for the concert (her whole “breaking out” of being a little girl, finally holding her own as an artist, etc.). Unfortunately, her next song, “Start All Over” was a misstep. Miley reminded me of a lower-pitched Hirano Aya with this one…meaning she tends to exuberantly yell out her high notes and her pitch falters considerably as a result. The verses were nearly cringeworthy, but at least the chorus was average.
Things go back to safe waters with “7 Things”. I love the intro – the guitar chords and the “sha” – and the song as a whole was decent live. Miley’s lower range is nearly as good as it was on record – a bit less rich, but still pleasant to listen to. Thankfully, she maintained a good energy level but didn’t overdo it on the chorus. On a side note, I enjoyed her backup singers in this a lot. “Kicking and Screaming” made me wonder if she alternated good performances with bad ones…this one was just nothing but a shouty mess. I suppose if she wanted to give the impression she was ‘kicking and screaming’ at the audience…well, she succeeded.
After that came a guitar solo break (for Miley to change clothes) in which two guitarists were either playing a duet or having a guitar battle. They completely blew Trace and Mason out of the water, and one of them was playing a black Gibson Les Paul…~! *insert Yoruko’s fangirling here* (I blame K-ON!…)
Miley came back wearing this really pretty peach dress and things slowed down for the ballad “Bottom of the Ocean”. The panels showed an underwater scene with serene blue water and bubbles. Miley’s random vocalizing here was, to my surprise, pretty as well. This was another one of the better performances, though I wish she could have put more emotion into it – some parts fell a bit flat and didn’t feel lonely enough. The ending choreography was great, though – from where I was sitting, Miley fell backwards into the stage pit (that originally she entered from) and the screen panels showed her floating underwater. Whether she was being suspended and the graphics made it look like she was in water or she was REALLY underwater, I have no idea…
The next song had an extended intro with a fly buzzing and then some man dangling on ropes and climbing up the screen panels like he was a fly…which of course leads to the song, “Fly On a Wall”. This one’s been one of my Miley favorites because it’s a rather amusing song about a stalker/overprotective boyfriend. But sadly, it suffered from the “Shake It” syndrome…after all the buildup, Miley’s singing disappointed me in this one – the melody kept going off-key and there was none of the sense of foreboding in her voice she had in the recording. At least they kept the “paparazzi” backup dancers that they had in the PV – that was fun to watch. “Fly On a Wall” ended with an odd tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” – with some of “Thriller” ‘s background music and the dance moves.
Lo and behold, we finally have a Hannah Montana song – “Let’s Get Crazy” from the HM movie. The highlight was definitely the visuals, again – the screen featured random people in comic book art style. The song was okay too – started off weak, but got stronger as it continued. However, unlike the vocalizing in “Bottom of the Ocean,” the bits here sounded a bit too forced and didn’t quite flow with the song. And of course, you can’t exactly bring up the HM movie without the infectious “Hoedown Throwdown” – Miley turns dance caller with this one. I was tempted to get up and try to do the moves along to the music like everyone else was, but I settled for clapping and bouncing in my seat along to the beat. The only flaw in this one was that it was too short…she only did about half of the original.
There was a rap interlude (featuring a video of will.i.am) with trippy disco visuals and some kickass breakdancers while Miley went to get ready for the next song.
I just love it when she slows things down and actually goes more for emotional impact. She mentioned that this was the first time she was nervous on her tour since she was coming back to LA (her hometown) and that she dedicated this song to her family – “These Four Walls”. If I mentioned the visuals were good in previous songs, they were STUNNING in this one. The stage was completely dark except for Miley and in the back, there were lighted logs in the background and chandeliers and wooden lights – it gave out a whole warm, campfire, “home” feeling. And the chandeliers were just beautiful. This song was simple and honest and built up to the dramatic parts well…Miley’s still got a long way to go before she can truly pull off something that fits a setting like this, but it was great how she sang this song while sitting down at the edge of this stage – it made it feel a lot more personal.
Miley then took a break to plug her latest movie – Last Song, with the screenplay and novel by Nicholas Sparks (you know, the mushy romance guy…A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, etc.). After the video clip, she performed the theme song from it – “When I Look At You”. I remember loving it to bits when I saw it on YouTube and lamenting the lack of more piano (I mean, the main character IS a pianist in the story) so I set my expectations a bit too high for this song. Miley managed to accompany herself on the piano with some simple lines (it was a really pretty white grand piano, too…*Yoruko steals*) then ended up stepping from the piano to finish singing. Miley ended up sounding too nasal in the majority of the choruses, but at least she put in the emotion needed, so it wasn’t too bad.
“Obsessed” was next, and I zoned out again here…the performance was just bland – not good or bad enough to really make a comment on. The best part would have to be near the end, when she’s singing the chorus and there’s all these golden sparkles around – they reminded me of Beatrice’s golden butterflies in Umineko no Naku Koro ni. “Spotlight” from the HM movie was next…the trippy black and white screen visuals and the backup singers gave it a bit of an old school feel (I thought of the movie Grease…) but sadly, the vocals were a bit lackluster on this one as well. If you’re going to sing about being in the spotlight, at least act excited. “Spotlight” transitioned into “G.N.O. (Girls’ Night Out)” – the screen had all these road signs and the song itself was cute and the girly enthusiasm was good too, but the whole pseudo-rap section ruined it (anybody remember Avril Lavigne trying to rap in “Girlfriend”?).
Miley then covered the Joan Jett classic “I Love Rock ‘n Roll”. While I normally don’t like it when Miley drawls out her lyrics with a twang (probably due to the fact she used to have a Southern accent), it worked fine in the chorus of this song. The best part was when she sang while riding on a shiny red motorcycle that was suspended from cables and traveled over the front section of the audience. Awesome staging, crowd got really into it, and a decent vocal performance from Miley. It still doesn’t come close to touching the original, but it’s got a nice, refreshing, youthful flair to it. This was probably one of the best moments of the night – then again, it might just be because of the song choice.
Things went slightly downhill again with what I call her “patriotic set” – “Party in the USA” and “Wake Up America”. The former was catchy but I found it childish (sure, her Hannah Montana songs are childish, too, but at least they were a lot more fun to listen to). The latter, I remember fondly from writing a paper on the creative diversity in pop music – I used “Wake Up America” as an example of a song that tries to have diversity but ultimately is swallowed up in mainstream stylings, or something along those lines. Musically, I still prefer “Wake Up America” by a long stretch though, because Miley sings her lowest notes during the verses. She had a bit of trouble hitting the C#3, but I suspect that’s due to her dancing while singing.
I find it ironic the next one was called “Simple Song” since there is a lot going on in the arrangement. It’s a song about…being overwhelmed by the rush everyday life and wanting just to relax and listen to a simple song – one that I’m sure a teen celebrity like her wholeheartedly can relate to. I was a bit overwhelmed by the arrangement, which I guess goes well with the lyrics…the best parts, though, are the sparse moments when she’s vocalizing along to just piano. I know Miley tried to inject the feeling of being rushed during the busier parts, but she ends up just sounding like she’s trying to yodel.
There was a pause, with just darkness onstage and lights going around the stadium, then Miley came back for her last two songs. “See You Again” was appropriate, since I’m sure she’d like us all to go to another one of her concerts someday. The chorus was yet another generic one, but I liked the slower pace of the verse. Again, same old stuff with the vocals – good low notes, shaky high ones. I think Miley tried to sound all sultry and sexy in it but…I just laughed, since she hasn’t got a mature enough tone for that.
Of course, “The Climb” is saved for last – it’s my absolute favorite song from her mainly because I went through a point in life where it completely resonated with me/brought me out of a slump. I was a bit disappointed because some of the dramatic buildup was lost – after keeping the energy level high for “See You Again”, she didn’t bring it down so the beginning of “The Climb” felt rushed. Still, she managed to sing strongly until the end, and carried off the peak of the song well. She exited the stage as the song was ending, on a platform that was slowly lowered out of the audience’s view, with a bright sunrise on the screen behind her. Overall, it was a pretty strong ending.
I was a bit disappointed she didn’t do an encore – it would have been nice to hear “Goodbye” (then again, there’s no guarantee she can get the C#3 in that perfectly live, either). The rumored setlists before the tour kicked off had predicted a Hannah Montana medley with “The Best of Both Worlds” and “Nobody’s Perfect” included. I personally really love those two, and I suppose a lot of her younger fans did as well. I understand Miley wants badly to shake off the “Disney girl” label, but sometimes what applies to anime also applies to American TV shows…the music with a tie-in will usually be stronger or at least more marketable. Just like how many J-Pop artists flounder about without anything memorable unless it’s anison, I believe that Miley’s Hannah Montana material is more enjoyable, even though I do like some of her solo works.
In a nutshell…
Most pleasant surprises:
Metro Station – Wish We Were Older, Kelsey, Japanese Girl
Miley Cyrus – Breakout, 7 Things, Bottom of the Ocean, Hoedown Throwdown, I Love Rock ‘n Roll
Had potential but fell short:
Metro Station – Now That We’re Done
Miley Cyrus – These Four Walls, Wake Up America, Simple Song, The Climb
Metro Station – Shake It
Miley Cyrus – Fly On A Wall, When I Look At You
Was it an enjoyable concert? It was okay – so-so, hit or miss…half/half, etc.
Was it completely worth my money? Not really.
Was it a good way to spend the evening? Yes.
Was Miley a good singer? She touched both extremes. Yes, given the right songs. I cannot stress song choice enough. The other end of the spectrum was quite unpleasant.
Would I go see her again? If it’s a free event or way cheaper/smaller venue, yes. But as of now, no.
In conclusion – I would like Miley Cyrus to lay off the shouty rock and try to sing slower, acoustic ballads with maybe a country tinge to them. That, or upbeat, girly pop songs that are light and cute without trying to rock out too much. I would also like her to sing songs of a lower range, since she is a pure alto with a rather limited vocal range and trying to belt like Avril Lavigne is bound to end in tragedy.
Also, someday I would like to see Metro Station solely once they polish up their performances a bit more. I think they definitely have more musical talent and potential than Miley Cyrus.