About four years ago, I saw Demi Lovato live for the first time (on her own headlining tour). It was the Neon Lights Tour and it was fantastic. I even wrote a review for it. And, for a time, this show was one of the highlights of my life (one of— I’m not that crazy). However, as time went on, one thing became abundantly clear: I needed to see her live again.
What brought this about? A few things. One of which was Demi herself— between 2014 and 2018 she’s grown as a person by leaps and bounds. I knew I needed to see this new, improved Demi. Additionally, the album the Neon Lights Tour (DEMI) was promoting isn’t as good as I once thought. Lyrically and musically, it’s Demi’s weakest. Tell Me You Love Me, on the other hand, is easily her best in every conceivable way. I needed to see her perform it on tour.
And yet, it was still only happenstance that I got to go at all. I initially didn’t buy any tickets, choosing instead to wait for the next tour. But then my sister’s friend who had bought tickets was unable to go, and offered them to me (for market price, of course). I happily took them off her hands. Thus, the tour I originally wasn’t going to get to experience in person was suddenly in my grasp.
That takes us to March 23rd— D-Day. Well, my D-Day. A co-worker and I rolled up to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with time to spare. We found our seats (which were excellent, by the way) and settled in for the show.
The first act to come out was Kehlani. I’d only ever heard her music in passing, so I wasn’t familiar with most of her songs. But her set made me a fan. She put on such an excellent show! Vocally, she was on point. Her stage presence was fantastic, her manner engaging and dancing sexy. She was sweet on “Honey” and feisty on “CRZY,” never letting up. Kehlani was the perfect choice for opening act on this tour.
The next act up was DJ Khaled, whose set I was particularly intrigued by, mostly because I didn’t know what he would do. And, as it turns out, it’s… not much. He does a little disc jockeying, but mainly he just stands there pumping up the crowd. So can someone explain to me why I had such a good time during his set? Maybe it reminds me of my club experiences, familiar songs blaring for the audience to sing and dance along to. So, even though his set didn’t have much substance, I still enjoyed myself. My only complaint is that he went really heavy with his whole “Free Meek Mill” shtick. I’m not sure what Meek Mill did, but it felt a little weird being asked to shout pleas to free him without knowing his alleged crime. But, other than that, it was a fun set.
And, finally, the main event rose up from below the stage: Demi Lovato. As an avid watcher of Demi tour videos, I can say without a shred of doubt that this is Demi’s best tour to date. The vocals, the outfits, the staging, the showmanship… all of it is evidence of a pop superstar just hitting her prime. This is the show of a woman saying, “Oh, you’ve just joined the Demi train? Well, it’s about time.”
Her confidence is at its peak, both in her demeanor and her willingness to be vulnerable. Demi continues allowing us to peek through her curtains, both in depicting her recovery on film and explaining why certain songs mean what they do to her. It allows for a connection most artists don’t give their fans, creating a bubble just for Demi and her Lovatics for an hour and a half.
But my personal experience with her hit its peak that evening, at least until I get the chance to someday meet her. During “Confident,” she walked ten feet in front of me. Naturally, I completely lost my shit and only got a sliver of her in the picture I took but still. Then, later in the show, I waited for a lull in the screaming. A moment when the fans were (mostly) quiet, the music wasn’t playing, and Demi wasn’t saying a word. And then, at the top of my lungs, I screamed, “I love you, Demi!” She didn’t respond, but I like to think that she heard me (we were close enough, after all).
March 23rd, 2018 is one evening I’m not going to forget for a long time to come. It was fun, it was emotional, it was Demi-filled. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Sorry, I’m not sorry.