Ariana Grande has gone from Nickelodeon star to the forefront of the pop scene in just a couple of years. When you witness her performing live, it’s easy to see why. Tonight, Glasgow’s 13,000 capacity Hydro arena is packed with Grande’s primarily young and female fans, dressed as their idol in matching top-and-skirt combos with stiletto heels and trademark cat-ears. It is difficult to not be impressed by Grande’s faultless vocal delivery, as well as her ability to dance in sparkly platform heels. Grande confidently opens the show with last summer’s smash hit Bang Bang – a collaboration with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj – claiming it as her own.
It would be easy to dismiss Grande’s music as generic bubblegum pop, but the truth is she has already established a solid back catalogue from her two albums, 2013’s Yours Truly and 2014’s My Everything. Her powerfully controlled soprano voice is just as effective on the suggestive R&B track Hands On Me as it is on the soaring, doo-wop throwback Tattooed Heart. However, her tendency to disappear at frequent intervals to change outfit makes for a slightly disjointed show. While Grande puts on a polished performance, the show is lacking some audience interaction, although that would possibly sacrifice the 9.30pm finishing time for her young audience. For example, Grande’s backing dancers emerge in tartan outfits at one point to acknowledge the Scottish crowd, but Grande does not follow suit. Still, Grande effortlessly performs a mix of songs from her two albums, as well as the “super-old” and suitably effervescent Pink Champagne (it was released in 2010). However, despite the throwback vibe on songs such as My Everything and Honeymoon Avenue, Grande is very much looking towards the future: during one of her disappearing acts, Imogen Heap appears on screen to explain that Grande is about to perform Why Try using a pair of gloves that will turn her voice into an electronic symphony. The show closes with an explosive performance of Grande’s collaboration with Iggy Azalea, Problem, which is rapturously received by the audience.
With her distinctive look, powerhouse voice and strong back catalogue, it is clear that Ariana Grande will last among her pop peers – cat-ears notwithstanding.
8th June 2015