Selena Gomez is one of the young pop stars straddling the line between grown-up Disney star who doesn’t balk at being shown nearly naked in a tub during a set-change video and angelic-looking idol to millions – more than 43 of them on Twitter – of mostly teen girl fans.
At the Thursday night stop of her “Revival” tour at Philips Arena, Gomez -- along with a team of nine dancers, a four-piece band, two background singers and some very cool curved platforms that doubled as video screens – presented both personas to a crowd that filled the lower bowl of the venue.
She beefed up her set list with early appearances by fizzy hits “Same Old Love” and a remixed version of “Come & Get It,” a petite figure pacing the stage in stiletto ankle boots (the first of a handful of costume changes).
As with many of her peers, there is no disputing the hard work Gomez puts into her live performance. Her hair care alone must be a grueling workout for at least one stylist. Those luxurious locks, blowing as if Gomez swiped the fan from Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” video, are one of her favorite props – and they should be.
She’s an adorable package of sweet vocals and gracefulness and, at 23, is already a performance veteran, going back more than a decade to her childhood role on “Barney & Friends.”
“I feel like I’ve grown up with all of you,” Gomez told the crowd in between her 2011 Selena Gomez & The Scene earworm “Who Says” and the piano ballad “Nobody.”
She’s about halfway through the North American leg of her “Revival” tour, which will continue across Asia and Europe through the end of the year.
But if Gomez has a flaw as a performer, she’s almost too practiced at her live presentation.
Occasionally she grinned her way through a song (as she did on the vaguely Latin “Slow Down”) or frolicked (during “Me & My Girls” as the set’s most interesting look, a Dia de Muertos theme, unfolded behind her). But too often, Gomez looked as if she were working hard at a musical script, making sure to slowly turn toward each segment of the crowd during a sultry “Good for You” or add an extra pout in “Hands to Myself.”
Gomez has found herself in the gossip press longer than necessary because of her former relationship with a certain trouble-prone singer, and she’s handled the scrutiny with maturity and poise.
She's slowly finding her own spotlight onstage, but maybe it’s time for her to fully unleash her inner goddess.
No doubt that Joe Jonas and his DNCE bandmates could give Gomez some tips about having more fun.
The goofy, spirited disco-pop-rock quartet of Jonas, drummer Jack Lawless, guitarist JinJoo Lee and bassist Cole Whittle has become almost annoyingly ubiquitous with the nonsensical “Cake by the Ocean.”
Live, though, the band is a fun – if exhausting – mixture of jangly guitar riffs (“Doctor You”), quick-tempo funk (covers of Prince’s “Kiss” and James Brown’s “Sex Machine”) and cacophonous rock (a loud cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home”).
While it was mostly impossible to discern what kind of vocalist Jonas has evolved into since his voice was usually buried under an overpowering groove, the model-handsome frontman is adept at working a crowd. Between his antics with his microphone stand and Whittle’s impressive Flea impersonation – both fashion sense and musically – DNCE was never anything less than terrifically entertaining.
After the shout-along to the predictable last song of their set – “Cake…” – Queen’s “We Are the Champions” blared through the arena as Lawless carted a giant trophy around the stage.
Did it make any sense? Not a bit. But it prompted smiles from the crowd, which seemed to be DNCE's primary goal.