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Ariana Grande At Madison Square Garden, Friday, February 24th, 2017, Reviewed


If Taylor Swift is the Queen Bee of female singers for teenage girls, the very essence of self-determination, Ariana Grande is half the size and half the songs but twice the voice. A towering soprano that emerges effortless on her bare bones stage and sent the audience over the top and beyond, especially during an all out no holds barred tour de force leading to the encore which had everybody on their feet (in my section the girls seldom sat down) and singing at the top of their voices. Dubbed set four, it found Ariana creaming her fans with one anthem after another punching out with “Problems” and  “Into You” before ending the evening with “Dangerous Woman”. Satisfied punters everywhere. Especially my companions for the evening, my great niece Juliet and her friends. Three fourteen year old girls wowed on their first trip to MSG

Except there is something missing here. I’ve seen Ariana on stage several times, as late as last December, and she bores the hell out of me. Her voice is great but her material is so lame it is painful and it is lousy despite some top producers (Max Martin!) working with her. It is generic EDM meets r&b without taking the slightest advantage of her Latin American roots, and Ariana is almost a dimwit. Here she is sitting on stairs, dressed in white, at the front of the stage:

“I love you

I love you so much

I love you so so so so much.”

What is she talking about, can she just not get out of her own way? On a minimalistic but shiny stage, there is something false about the woman and I don’t mean just the rumors of her rudeness to her fans (though she has been known to snub the rugrats with an “I fucking hate them”) because, really, who wants to be judged on their worst moments. And that licking donuts thing (there is video of Ariana visiting Wolfee Donuts in California, licking a doughnut on a counter and declaring “I hate America.”), well, that was as sad as it was creepy. All those child stars are kinda screwed up, and Ariana is kinda screwed up as well: she is a distracted star, the artistry is in the singing only, and her singing is great while everything else is off. She dances with her pony tail and is expansive on the stage, but it doesn’t amount to much more than a run through the bland and very big last album Dangerous Woman (Grade: C+) plus hits with a voice too good for the material.  To me. I expect more from my pop. For the three girls with me, taking pictures and videos, texting their friends, singing on the top of their lungs and screaming just as loud, it was all that and more:  it was a pop dream come to life.

My Grade: C

Their Grade: A


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