A giant tongue, a series of rainbow furries, a rapper with an oversized comedy head. A bejeweled leotard made from dollars, a 60ft tribute to a dead dog, and a massive floating hotdog. What else could it be but Miley Cyrus and her Bangerz tour?
Needless to say, opening act Sky Ferreira didn’t really prepare us for the visual onslaught to come. She saunters on stage with hipster ennui behind dark sunglasses, as if about to address a 12-step meeting rather than sing to a packed arena. But Ferreira’s tight and punchy set is filled with the right amount of energy to introduce her scintillating debut album to a gaggle of teenagers unprepared for a grunge-pop revival – Heavy Metal Heart and I Blame Myself fill the O2 without any trouble whatsoever, while Everything is Embarrassing (false start aside) and You’re Not The One bring the set to a triumphant close.[/two_third]
[two_third last=”no”]And then comes the madness. The moment Miley Cyrus slides down that tongue, the party starts – the Bangerz tour is in full swing with the album’s title track, quickly followed by the hoedown of 4×4. The colour palette is similar to a toddler on LSD, the giant screen behind her ranging from deliberately shoddy CGI (“show some love for Mr Lagerfeld” she demands when a crude bust of the designer appears) to Adventure Time-esque animation. Of course on top of that we have twerking dancers in various shapes and sizes and a large pink Big Bird puppet, but if we carry on any longer we’ll probably have something akin to an acid flashback.
With Miley’s Bangerz, every song is a set-piece. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be either: Love Money Party, with its replica golden car, ends up being quite the foot-stomper, while the hotdog-bothering On My Own (a bonus track given appropriate respect) and Someone Else show off Miley’s range. The pace slows a little on the B-stage and Miley’s unending diatribe about her deceased pet and recent hospital visit, but it’s back to business as usual with luminous covers of Bob Dylan, Arctic Monkeys, Lana Del Rey, and Dolly Parton. You haven’t really lived until you’ve heard a 21 year-old call Jolene a cunt.[/two_third]
[two_third last=”yes”]If you hate Miley Cyrus, you will absolutely despise everything in the Bangerz tour. Sure, there are some embarrassing missteps that might make her cringe in future – “Are y’all as slutty as Americans?” she asks the crowd of teenage girls before spitting water on them, moments after a simulated orgy on stage – but Miley is deliberately embodying trash right now. Not kitschy trash, not arty trash, just a full-blown and self-conscious demolition of taste and decency in the name of being able to do whatever the hell she wants. It’s certainly a refreshing departure from a prissy Taylor Swift or the faux-worthiness of Lady Gaga.
In fact, Miley’s persona is so extreme that it simply has to be entertaining rather than disturbing – she revels in making people uncomfortable by being Middle America’s worst nightmare. There’s no anti-feminist message here, no bad influence on young girls; on the contrary, her audience are too savvy and progressive to fall for that Helen Lovejoy school of thought. If anything, she comes across a bit like the girl we all knew at uni, who after a few drinks would happily piss on a bar for a dare – you’ll never do the same, but you’d probably egg it on (and still laugh about it when she becomes a sober career woman in a few years).
More importantly, it’s heartening that the loudest cheer of the night comes when a gay couple kiss on screen during Adore You, proving that there’s prevalent morality among her fans. Whatever the take-home though, Miley Cyrus still manages to make Bangerz a bonkers, brilliant show that we’ve never experienced before. For anyone to be able to say that in this day and age is really quite a feat in itself, and for Miley Cyrus it can only mean a complete victory.