Review: Demi Lovato – SSE Arena, Belfast
It’s almost been ten years to the day since teen pop sensation Demi Lovato barreled onto our screens as the shy Mitchie Torres in Disney’s hit movie ‘Camp Rock.’ Since then, she has had amazing highs, such as worldwide success with her music, to troubling lows, like her depression and eating disorders.
That’s why it comes as a surprise that on Demi’s first trip to Northern Ireland, half of the SSE Arena is empty. Surely with such success more people would’ve jumped at the chance to see the sexy starlet? Needless to say, the crowd that turned up made up for it in screams, and took advantage of the roomy space around them to create a dance floor in their groups.
The stage was simplistic, with the band and back-up vocalists hidden in between big screens, giving more room for Demi and her dancers. She rose from the ground to huge cheers to ‘You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore,’ a promotional single taken from her latest album ‘Tell Me You Love Me,’ a top 5 hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
She returned under the stage and the screens were filled with a comical video of two of her, one lying in a chair speaking to her psychologist, who was also Demi, albeit hiding behind spectacles. In the short video, allowing for costume change, they discuss her latest obsession with a boy, before she rises again with the same chair, breaking into the infectious ‘Daddy Issues.’
Massive tracks ‘Cool For The Summer,‘ ‘Sexy Dirty Love‘ and ‘Heart Attack‘ followed, the former about being fluid with your sexuality, as the US star shouted: ‘Love whoever you want to love,’ during the performance, making the crowd go wild.
“Belfast, I am so excited to be here tonight. I don’t think I’ve ever headlined an arena tour in Europe before, so I’m glad you all came here tonight.
“I’m wearing a boot,” she brandishes her leg, although in a cast, she’s designed it with sparkles and leather to match her outfit, “I broke my foot a few months back. I’m not as sexy as I usually am.”
She then tells the audience that she wants everyone to kiss their neighbours, before a ‘kiss cam’ appears on the big screen, singling out members of the audience, as she sings ‘Give Your Heart A Break.’
A short intermission follows, where the video shows Demi being prepped by a boxing coach, before she emerges in suitable attire to ‘Confident.’
Disappearing back under stage became a theme, as she rose up again with a guitar and bare legs and feet on a bed. “I’ve never been to Belfast before, thanks for the warm welcome,” she smiles before starting ‘Concentrate.’
“This song goes out to anyone who’s ever had their heart broken,” she said to cheers from the audience, before emotional track ‘Cry Baby,’ where a dance couple depicted an argument as they danced around her on the bed.
Late last year, Demi released a documentary talking about her life up until now, whether it was substance abuse, relationships or the pains of fame, and she talked about it a bit with the fans before saying: “Being a 25-year-old single woman can be lonely.” Cue the crowds screams as she, funnily enough, plays the first few cords to ‘Lonely,’ a song she released with US rapper Lil Wayne.
After reappearing again, it was the song featuring part of the night, with Cheat Codes’ ‘No Promises,’ Clean Bandit’s ‘Solo‘ and Louis Fonsi’s ‘Échame la Culpa.‘ Demi dancing away, despite her injury, until finally, her latest single with her ‘idol,’ Christina Aguilera followed. It was her first time performing the single, ‘Fall In Line,’ live in concert.
She then sat down at a piano for the acoustic set, promising the audience that there was more to come from her in 2018, but she couldn’t give any details yet.
‘Warrior‘ was a song that, on first listen, sounded like any other break-up song, but she indulged to the audience that it’s actually about her relationship with mental health, something very close to her own heart: “I have bipolar disorder and I’m proud of it.”
‘Father‘ followed, possibly the saddest and most personal, as she talked about dealing with growing up with a father who was bipolar and schizophrenic. After he died, her anger went away and she wrote this song about it, saying she finds it very hard to sing live, but that the Belfast crowd deserved to hear her story.
After yet another costume change, the night ended with top ten hit ‘Sorry, Not Sorry‘ and the final song and name of the tour, ‘Tell Me You Love Me.’