Days after a surprise stop at the Heat Nightclub, pop diva Ariana Grande appeared in front of an energetic AT&T Center crowd to prove why her mere presence is reason enough to freak out.
The girl is damn talented — and her career is at an all-time high.
As a fan that tuned into Grande's discography more seriously following the release of Sweetener
, I left the show thinking that every detail of the tour supports that this isn't just Grande's year – during which she earned her first Grammy and broken records previously held by the Beatles. It's her world, too, and we're just living in it.
Grande brought her Sweetener tour to San Antonio Friday night, treating fans to hits from the 2018 album and just as many from this year's thank u, next
. Though Grande has long been a vocal advocate for equality, largely for women and the LGBTQ community, her girl power-inspired brand has been solidified with her two most recent albums and, in turn, the Sweetener tour.
That much was evident even in the form of opening act Normani. The singer made her way to the stage as an audio recording said, "Normani is that bitch," and the crowd erupted in screams. The former Fifth Harmony member was in line with Grande's lady-friendly agenda, being joined by female dancers and musicians.
"I'm so proud and happy to be here," Normani said between songs. "I'm from Texas, too. We gotta show them how it's done."
That meant lots of dance numbers and ass-shaking that prompted the crowd to scream wildly. After getting the crowd pumped up, the solo artist ended her 30-minute set with her most popular hits, such as her collaborations with Sam Smith and Khalid.
After a break to allow the crew to set up the stage for Grande, the singer's voice echoed through the AT&T Center as she sang "raindrops (an angel cried)," Sweetener
's opening track. The colors on the stage changed and a section of the stage opened up to reveal a table with Grande and her backup dancers staged around it in the style of the Last Supper. At that point, the song transitioned into "God is a Woman."
"San Antonio!" Grande exclaimed. "Welcome to the Sweetener tour."
The crowd responded with shrieking screams and lots of jumping. Of course, this was the crowd's reaction for many moments throughout the night — whenever she said "San Antonio, let me hear you!" and every time she removed a fluffy jacket or top from her outfit (and she did that plenty, as she had at least four costume changes).
While Grande kept the crowd screaming as she performed "break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored," "REM," "breathin" and "NASA," the singer also paid tribute to older hits such as "Side to Side," "Love Me Harder," "Into You" and "Dangerous Woman" across her hour-and-a-half set.
The 25-year-old waited until the near end of her time onstage to address the crowd for more than a few seconds.
"Thank you guys so much," Grande gushed. "You guys have been so fucking incredible. Your energy is so beautiful. You guys are so sweet."
Feeling that energy and seeing how everyone responded to Grande's presence was truly something. A pre-teen, accompanied by her mother, sitting next to me jumped up and down enthusiastically for almost every song, even the slower ones. A guy with a mohawk and gauges sitting in front of me said, "Oh my God," and pretended to faint on at least two occasions when Ms. Ari's vocals, well, slayed. A pair of women in their late 20s had their hands over their hearts when Grande sat on the edge of the stage and sang "needy," an all too-relatable song for any female. Everyone around me was feeding off that energy, and I'm sure that was the case for every fan in the AT&T Center.
The mood only intensified as Grande sang "no tears left to cry" before briefly leaving the stage. The screen then showed Grande's original "thank u, next" tweet and a montage of other tweets, Instagram photos and behind-the-scenes footage in the weeks leading up to the release of the pop culture-infused music video.
While fans ate up every second of Grande's performance, "thank u, next" live in person was easily the highlight of the night and signaled Grande's growth both as an artist and a young woman. To unite a diverse array of fans to sing along harmoniously and wholeheartedly, song after song, is one thing, but to do so after a year of heartbreak and healing — and in heels no less — was nothing short of inspiring.
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