Lizzo’s “Special Tour” Showcases All of Her (Many) Talents: Review

The post Lizzo’s “Special Tour” Showcases All of Her (Many) Talents: Review appeared first on Consequence.

A visibly moved Lizzo returned to the stage Friday night for the debut show on her “Special Tour” (get tickets here), a 28-date jaunt in support of her latest studio album, Special. Part variety show spectacle, part megachurch empowerment retreat, the performance showcased all of Lizzo’s special talents, from powerhouse singing, to flute playing, to motivational speaking and choreo slaying.

“My name is Lizzo, and welcome to the first night of my very first arena tour,” she said proudly in one of many moments when deep gratitude registered on her face as she paused to take in the rapturous screams of thousands. Before the stage lights blinked on and opener “The Sign” blared over the sound system, a voiceover of the singer set the heartening tone for the evening.

“I really believe that love for oneself and for others is what this world needs to be a better place,” she said in what would become the first of many motivational tangents of the evening. “If you can just take the time to give a little love to yourself every single day, treat yourself with respect, treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated, treat somebody else with that same love and respect — that expands, that grows, and that can save a life.”

As the last few words echoed, the singer emerged from the stage floor in a shimmering blue cutout bodysuit and matching eyeshadow. Still clutching her chest in a wordless expression of appreciation, she launched into “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)” as her dancers, The Big Grrrls, dashed onto the stage dressed in bright Barbiecore pink.

Recalling Beyoncé’s early solo tours, Lizzo’s stage was dominated by women, from the band to the backup singers, dancers, and DJ. An extensive guitar solo introduced the brilliant “Tempo,” during which The Big Grrrls showed out with an invigatoring freestyle dance-off.

“Am I turning thick girls into hos, or am I turning thick girls into Emmy winners?” Lizzo laughed into the mic, nodding to her recent Emmy win for reality dance competition Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, which has thrust the multi-hyphenate performer into the EGOT conversation. The “Special Tour” goes a long way to make the case that she has the chops to get there.

At the very least, the show proves Lizzo would absolutely crush a Vegas residency. Once a retirement plan for past-their-prime performers, the form has been reinvented in recent years by powerhouse pop stars like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars — performers who, like Lizzo, are able to draw upon a multitude of talents to craft a show that goes well beyond the traditional song and dance.

For Lizzo, one of those skills is, of course, her flute playing. The flute materialized late into the set — 21 songs in, for a solo on “Coldplay.” It made its entrance in spectacular fashion, rising out of the stage floor on a studded museum stand, bathed in the center-stage spotlight.

“She’s very expensive, so she just came out for this one song,” Lizzo said, placing it back on the glimmering stand before asking the crowd to bid adieu to the flute with a signature Lizzo “bye, bitch!” as it lowered into the stage floor.

The flute returned a few times, however — even Lizzo’s flute gets an encore — including for “Truth Hurts,” during which Lizzo replicated the solo she played on her breakthrough 2019 BET Awards performance of the song. During one particularly touching moment, a poster reading “Sign my flute, Lizzo” caught the singer’s attention in the stands. She asked the fan — a 17-year-old named Jessi — to bring her flute down to the stage. “I think I might make that a thing,” she said as she autographed the case. “Bring your flutes — I’ll sign ‘em bitch!”

Beyond the evening’s affirmation exercises (multiple video interludes asked fans to repeat to themselves, “I love you, you’re beautiful, and you can do anything”), the flutist fan interaction was demonstrative of the way Lizzo goes out of her way to make fans feel seen — literally. She made a point of spotlighting particular outfits and posters from fans high up in the stands. She shouted out one fan wearing her Yitty shapewear brand, and another wearing a Harry Styles shirt. “Hizzo” signs — a portmanteau of Harry Styles and Lizzo, alluding to their mutual admiration and friendship — dotted the arena, and she mentioned those, too. “There are no nosebleeds [seats] at a Lizzo show,” she affirmed.

There were welcome surprises, including covers of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” and Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing),” the latter of which she samples on Special’s “Break Up Twice.” She also referenced the treacherous state of abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, knowing affirmations are empty platitudes if they’re not backed by political and public action. Dressed in a flesh-colored bodysuit during “Naked,” the words “My Body, My Choice” were projected onto her frame. “I know that we’re in Florida,” she added later, “so there’s one thing I would love to say: Gay.”

Closing the main set with “Good as Hell,” she returned to play “Juice” and “About Damn Time” as the encore. She took out her earpiece to listen to the adoring crowd and offered some parting words: “Thank you for loving me and accepting me for who I am — for accepting me in this beautiful, perfect body. I want you to know that if you can love me, you can love your damn self, okay? A little action every single day will make it easier, I promise you. I was going through it when I dropped Cuz I Love You. And now I’m here and I’m realizing that I’m special. And you’re special.”

“Am I ready to be loved?” Lizzo sings on Special. The supporting tour’s opening show offered a resounding yes, but the performance achieved a higher mission: it gave everyone in the audience permission to love themselves first.

The “Special Tour” runs through the middle of November, visiting more than 20 cities. Get tickets here.

Setlist:
The Sign
2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)
Soulmate
Phone (Interlude)
Grrrls
Boys
Tempo
Rumors
Scuse Me
Fitness (Interlude)
Naked
Jerome
Break Up Twice
Doo Wop (That Thing)
Special
I’m Every Woman
Like a Girl
Birthday Girl
Everybody’s Gay
Water Me
Cuz I Love You
If You Love Me
Coldplay
Truth Hurts
I Love You Bitch
Good as Hell

Encore:
Juice
About Damn Time

Lizzo’s “Special Tour” Showcases All of Her (Many) Talents: Review
Celia Almeida

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