Thursday 8 May 2014

Miley Cyrus at O2 Arena - 06 May 2014

Miley Cyrus in typically restrained mode

Last year I saw an image that got my attention.

And I thought to myself "That Miley Cyrus is alright in my book."

Which is a long winded explanation for why I'm perched in the O2 as Miley brings her Bangerz tour to London.

It starts mad and gets madder. From the opening moment when Cyrus slides down an enormous prosthetic tongue to gyrate with a cast of Technicolor furries in front of a giant screen showing a typically off kilter and disturbing John Kricfalusi cartoon of the same thing, I just start laughing and smiling. I don't stop for the next hour and three quarters.

During the opening number Miley appears to be naked aside for a pair of strategically placed red lips clamped to her boobs and butt. There is twerking. She bounces about to the electro hoedown of '4 x 4' and dances with a pink gingham pantomime horse.

By song three Miley has changed into a tiny leotard made of dollar bills and simulating sex on the roof of a golden Humvee that trundles out amongst the audience whilst firing wads of 'Miley Money' over their heads.

She follows this with the bravura 'FU', a waltz timed belter that sees her work the crowd whilst ignoring the twelve foot tall orange day-glo muppet that is apparently stalking her.

It’s a show that gets your attention.

Cyrus has a huge voice. When she sings a relatively straight forward power ballad she commands the whole arena, acknowledging the lights of a million raised cell phones and deftly fielding the shower of trinkets that the crowd are hurling at her.  She gets the cameras to home in on audience members snogging each other. They all oblige and the Daily Mail shits itself..

She gathers her breath, spits her bottle of water over the lucky/unlucky few nearest the stage and prances off to a giant bed atop which she writhes about with an ever growing phalanx of muscular male dancers.

This is Miley's first gig since being hospitalised for an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and she lets rip with an expletive filled rant about the internet rumourmongers who had thought she was on drugs. This is a theme that she returns to throughout the show, her voice a polite Texan drawl, her words those that would make a docker wince.

The most astonishing visual coup of a seriously bonkers show is that unannounced arrival of a forty foot inflatable of her late lamented dog Floyd. He towers over the stage, malevolently shooting lasers from his eyes. The set changes into a kind of Egyptian ritual, with dancers wildly twirling at the feet of this dark Anubis.

Miley then decamps to a separate, intimate stage at the other end of the arena. She is now dressed in a spangly shirt but has lost her trousers. Here she really lets rip with some top notch cover versions, including Arctic Monkeys ('You Only Call Me When You're High'), Bob Dylan ('You're Gonna Make Me Lonely When You Go'), Lana Del Rey ('Summertime Sadness') and Dolly Parton ('Jolene'). Here you get a glimpse of the artist she will become once she's calmed down a bit.

Then it’s back to the action, with much crunking, bogling and twerking from her dancers and Miley flying round the arena on a giant hot dog.

For all Miley's obsession with tweaking the nose of decency, there's something slightly misjudged about the 'naughty' stuff tonight. Bluntly, Miley is a game little minx, but she's far too showbiz to be properly sexy and no amount of titillation can address this. So her show falls into an uncanny valley of oddness.

After a duet with a giant 3D kitten, Miley eschews the obvious temptation and performs the mighty 'Wrecking Ball' in a relatively straightforward manner.

By the second encore 'Party in the USA' the whole gang are jiving about, dressed as American landmarks such as Mount Rushmore or the Liberty Bell. Miley wears a ten gallon hat and a Union Jack leotard. The evening ends with glitter and fireworks.

Miley Cyrus is currently weird and wonderful, crazy and colourful and probably the best arena sized act out there at the moment. You realise that the reason that those titans of the pop industry looked so pissed off was the realisation that they had just gone the way of the dinosaur.