Demi Lovato Unbroken World Tour MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Mashantucket, CT November 18, 2011
Review & Photos by Jeremy Spencer
Demi Lovato delivered a strong and inspiring show in just the second date of her Unbroken World Tour on November 18 at MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods. I was most impressed with her commitment to her music and her fans. She put on a fun, fast-moving show that was all about the music and not about gimmicks or hype. Demi was sincere in talking about her recent time off to regroup and her love for her fans.
Lovato's fervant followers filled the theater and were as ramped up as any crowd I've ever seen pre-show. With no warm-up artist, a DJ pumped up the jams while chants of "Demi! Demi!" rang through the house every few minutes and any movement by the stage techs brought screams of anticipation.
Demi showed real class throughout the night, beginning with the concert's opening bars, when the band smoothly segued from the DJ mix to live and the star and her dancers appeared without fanfare.
She opened with her Timbaland-produced dance hit, "All Night Long." It was peppy, poppy and a perfect start to the show. Dancers with comical disco-ball heads followed Demi down the staircase of the stark, split-level set. The actress/singer showed a comfortable ease with working the stairs top to bottom and the front row of screaming fans side-to-side, showing no jitters in her return to action after her layoff to work through personal issues.
Jailbreak! Demi and the dancers "Got Dynamite."
With her talented dance team costumed in striped prison garb and wielding barred set pieces, an interesting illusion was created in the dance that was exciting and chaotic for "Got Dynamite" from her second album, "Here We Go Again." It was one of several subtle and sometimes direct allusions to her success at confronting physical and emotional issues during her stay at a treatment center a year ago, which temporarily sidetracked her whirlwind music career and acting (the "Camp Rock" movies and Disney Channel's "Sonny With A Chance" in case you didn't know) but ultimately helped her to better prepare for long-term stardom.
The jailbreak motif of "Dynamite" might have been more than just a fun dance -- maybe it suggested how she's broken away from stresses and complications in her own mind. It's unimaginable to me how someone so young can deal with the show business stresses she took on as a teenager; that she resolved whatever issues she had is a testament to her maturity. And better that she got on track quickly and not end up like some other wayside waifs in the entertainment business.
The dancers stayed in the con costumes for another action-packed number, "Hold Up," a saucy, bad-girl ditty wherein Demi gets in a cardboard cut-out car for a joyride with one of the boys then gets herself in the middle of a scene of wild abandon and machine-gun strobes.
Sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar, she took a minute to acknowledge where she's been and the support she's gotten. "You're my family and my friends and not just my fans," she stated sincerely. "You stuck with me through the good, the bad and the ugly ... even when I found myself getting into a little trouble.
"Thanks for letting me do what I wanna do, which is create music. You make dreams come true."
When she asked if the fans wanted to hear "some old stuff," they screamed and I had to smile, trying to think of her 2008 debut, "Don't Forget," and 2009's "Here We Go Again" as "old stuff."
"Catch Me" and "Don't Forget" from the first two discs were stiched together as a medley, with Demi playing acoustic guitar on the first then switching to a sizzling electric for the second with fans singing along.
Her four-piece band was tight throughout the show and rocked when they needed to and backed her with grace on the softer stuff.
Four songs into the show, she'd already shown different shades of her performing persona and there was a lot more to come.
For the next segment, a neon sign lit on top of the set to show we were in "Club Demi." She and the female dancers played a group of tough chicks who crash the club and take over with their dancing to "Who's That Boy" from her latest album. Demi doesn't dance much, but she cut loose a few times in the show and this was one of them. The male dancers were back with the disco-ball heads, only wearing suits and ties this time.
This was a fun number and a chance for Demi to tart up a little bit, which she didn't do a lot, but she and the dancers had a good time and so did the crowd. After that, Club Demi goes legit -- she stepped up to the mike as a jazzy nightclub singer to start "My Love Is Like A Star," turning it into a real torch song, wailing soulfully as the crowd screamed. Then she took it to church, showing off that great voice, dropping to her knees and emoting like James Brown.
The "Club Demi" sign was replaced with a big, red, neon heart and Demi sat on the stairs at the top of the set to begin "Fix A Heart" then descended the stairs to sing to the front row of her rabid fans, nicknamed "Lovatics."
The young star worked hard, showing she's back and better than ever. She sure wasn't there to just go through the motions, Demi put her all into every song. And when she shared her love with the fans, it wasn't just talk, you could tell it was sincere and genuine. For all she went through the past year, you feel like she's healing and moving forward. Her fans respect her for it. If I'm the parent of a teenager, I want them to admire a girl like Demi who recognized the problems she was having emotionally, problems like most teenagers have, and went to work to fix them. Everyone loves a success story, a comeback. She makes you want to cheer for her.
Wearing a David Bowie t-shirt under a furry vest and over sparkling, silver tights, Demi kicked into a medley of tunes from her first two albums, "Get Back," "Here We Go Again" and "La La Land," where the band blazed and her lead guitarist got a chance to solo.
End of "Lightweight" - Demi withstands the storm with dignity.
The quiet, sublime "Lightweight" was next, showing the softer side of Demi and revealing much about her fragile inner workings -- not just the girl in the song ("I'm a lightweight, easy to fall, easy to break, with every move my whole world shakes") but the artist herself. Complete opposite of the bad girl in "Hold Up" or the sizzling chanteuse on "Star." Surrounded by her dancers as Victorian characters with props like an umbrella, a picture frame, she stirs emotions in this song.
In the end, she stood at the side of the stage, alone, wistfully, thoughtfully, in silence except for the sound of wind and rain for a full 30 seconds. You felt like this was her through her lonely ordeal of the past year. It was a powerful, powerful, poignant moment unlike anything I've ever seen at a concert. Sometimes silence speaks volumes.
It was a perfect segue to "Skyscraper" ("Skies are crying, I am watching, catching teardrops in my hands") which she began on piano, a song ultimately about empowerment and healing ("I will be rising from the ground like a skyscraper").
She again took a minute to bare her soul. "My life is more than just singing and dancing, it's about being an example to you guys," she said. Recalling her time in rehab (not substance abuse, btw, Demi worked through issues stemming from emotional and physical exhaustion) she recalled, "I was scared and alone. I never thought a year later I'd be touring. That's why I love my life today."
Demi's band and dancers
Demi introduced her band and the dancers and joked that she was the one, in fact, with all the moves! She did in fact throw down some wicked dance steps and whipped her hair as she and her team showed off with a great cover of the current hit by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera, "Moves Like Jagger."
She closed witha crowd-pleasing "Together," then returned for an uplifting encore of "Unbroken" and a fult-tilt exciting romp with the band on "Remember December" with Demi and her lead guitarist being whirled around the stage on a spinning platform.
Demi's return to performing on this 10-date tour looks to be a success both professionally and personally. She's decided to put her music first and it showed here. In fact, there were no "Camp Rock" songs or any allusion to her acting career. She's back on track, focused and determined. It showed.