BY SARAH OLSEN ’18
Since her 2011 departure from Disney, Demi Lovato has been taking great strides to prove herself to be more than a childhood star. Last year she released her sixth album, “Tell Me You Love Me,” and, this February, she embarked on a world tour. The international portion starts in Brazil in May with the U.S. leg of the tour finishing in Newark, NJ this Monday.
Featuring minimal props and strong vocals, the “Tell Me You Love Me” tour showcased Lovato at her finest. While belting out songs from previous albums, “Unbroken,” “Demi” and “Confident” and songs from her latest album, Lovato’s powerful vocals have remained consistent. She’s proved to be a rare figure in today’s music industry: an award winning artist who can actually sing. While performing hit singles such as “Heart Attack,” or “Sorry Not Sorry,” Lovato didn’t shy away from high notes. Not only did Lovato sing on pitch, she also demonstrated her ability to perform any song she’s released — this was made apparent during her rendition of “Échame la Culpa,” the singer’s latest single. The majority of the song’s lyrics are in Spanish, but that does not stop Lovato from delivering a flawless performance. Considering Lovato does not speak Spanish, which she revealed in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, and how other American singers have failed when attempting to perform their non-English songs (like Justin Bieber’s disastrous performance of “Despacito”) this feat is truly impressive.
For the “Tell Me You Love Me” tour, the stage was often bare with the momentary appearance of a bed for “Lonely,” “Cry Baby” and “Sexy Dirty Love,” and a couch during “Daddy Issues.” With screens depicting various words and images behind her and surrounded by dancers, Lovato controlled the stage with ease — her presence was made more conspicuous with a number of costume changes. While performing “Confident,” Lovato donned a pink sequin boxer’s robe and two long french braids. During the performance of quieter songs, like “Lonely” or “Smoke and Mirrors,” she wore a flowing white robe with her hair undone. Not only was it fun for the audience to see Lovato’s fabulous wardrobe, it also showed the many personas of Lovato that are expressed in her music. Throughout her concert, Lovato wasn’t afraid to celebrate the different parts of herself from sexy in “Daddy Issues,” to vulnerable in “Lonely” to fun in “Give Your Heart a Break,” when the audience is put on screen via a kisscam.
Throughout her career Lovato has been vocal about humanitarian issues, including the removal of stigma surrounding mental health. Taking advantage of her platform — both literally and figuratively — she discussed mental health during her show with a heartfelt speech about her father, who was an alcoholic and suffered from mental illness. After the speech Lovato performed a song she wrote about the complicated relationship with her dad, titled “Father.” It was the first time Lovato performed the song on a tour, explaining that the song’s topic was so personal that she had not planned to perform the song live. She also gave a personal testimony to her own struggles with addiction and mental illness.
During a performance in Brooklyn on March 16, Lovato celebrated six years of being sober. “I made changes in my life, and the reason I became so open about my story is because I know that there are people here tonight that need to ask for help,” she told the audience in Brooklyn. “I want you to know that that’s okay. Mental health is something that we all need to talk about, and we need to take the stigma away from it. So let’s raise the awareness. Let’s let everybody know it’s okay to have a mental illness, it’s okay to have an addiction problem.”
Lovato has also been vocal about LBGT rights and the theme of free love was present throughout her show. Opening acts singer Kehlani and DJ Khaled both made statements on the importance of love and acceptance. Kehlani finished her speech with a performance of her song “Honey,” which features lyrics “I like my girls just like I like my honey; sweet.” Lovato also made a similar statement and performed “Cool for the Summer,” a song that celebrates the excitement of a lesbian relationship with lyrics “Take me down into your paradise / don’t be scared because I’m your body type.” The biggest statement of the tour was Lovato’s final U.S. performance in Newark when Kehlani joined Lovato on stage for a kiss and an unforgettable moment as Lovato straddled Kehlani on the bed for the night’s performance of “Sexy Dirty Love.”
Despite the glamour and perks of fame, Lovato doesn’t forget where her success came from: her fans. At one point during the show, she took a moment to thank them, telling the audience that, on her darkest days, it’s her fans who keep her inspired and help her battle. While celebrating her sobriety in Brooklyn, Lovato told the audience, “I can never say ‘Thank you’ enough to you guys for the support that you’ve given me over the years, and you’ve forgiven me for my mistakes. Thank you for being a part of saving my life. I love you guys.