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Review: Cyrus rocks her Gypsy Heart in Sydney

After stopping in Brisbane and Melbourne, it was finally Sydney’s turn to see teen pop-sensation Miley Cyrus perform live at Acer Arena (June 26-27th) as part of her Gypsy Heart tour.

Selling almost 20, 000 tickets for every Aussie show, Cyrus proves that she still has a strong fanbase of die-hard fans despite recent ‘racy’ music videos (Can’t Be Tamed and Who Owns My Heart) and the expose of shocking scandals (who can forget the salvia video?) that sent parents and kids baffling into further frenzy madness. The arena was extraordinarily packed as kids as young as six were accompanied by parents, and there were plenty of teens, young adults and even adults amongst the concert-goers as well.

As the lights began to dim, a cityscape backdrop appeared on the screen and sirens began to blast from all corners — the arena welcomed the unknown with a deafening buzzing of overzealous fans, screeching their hearts out in enthusiasm. Cyrus then finally debuts her presence on stage, kicking the show off with Can’t be Tamed‘s rebellious energetic song, Liberty Walk.

Dressed in risque, yet gorgeous diva attire (mainly legless bodysuits, diamond-studded bras and leather jackets), the former Hannah Montana star has definitely proven that she is not your typical cookie-cutter former Disney star anymore. Strutting the stage in leather boots flaunting her thighs and legs, the teen superstar began rapping and belting Liberty Walk‘s lyrics with her distinctive, powerhouse vocals.

Not wanting to waste any precious time, Cyrus soon cranked up the party by immediately jumping into everybody’s favourite (and Cyrus’s patriotic 2008 hit song), Party in the USA. She then continued to rock the arena with dynamic songs Kicking and Screaming and Robot, boasting impressive vocal chords whilst vigourously performing with diva temperament.

And if these titles have yet to show you Cyrus’s gutsy ‘what you see is what you get’ persona, she then launched into her first batch of covers for the night — a Joan Jett medley of I love Rock n’ Roll/Cherrybomb/Bad Reputation — which got everyone in the crowd (including young kids and parents) jumping off their seat and rocking out with her.

Don’t judge Cyrus though. I Love Rock n’ Roll may have been covered countlessly over the years, including Britney Spears (2002), L.A. Guns (2010) and Alex Gaudino and Jason Rooney (2008), but Cyrus executed the song with fierce demeanor. Her Southern, edgy, nasally voice was also perfect for the two succeeding Joan Jett songs, and her revue was no different for her sequential Every Rose Has Its Thorn as she delivered the 1988 Poison song with justice — as highly praised by Poison’s Bret Michaels himself.

These were not the last of covers for the night as Cyrus also paid tributes to her other favourites such as Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit and Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, evidently demonstrating her versatile vocals not only for pop, rock and power-ballads, but country music as well. And although these songs were unknown to a majority of the audience, hushing the fans in silence and confusion–which was rather amusing — the fans nevertheless embraced the songs as they swayed their arms along with the music.

Whilst these covers may have set the blogsphere on fire, receiving unfavourable reviews by critics and music-lovers, Cyrus’s performance was not mediocre at all. She hits the notes well and captures the songs’ spirit genuinely, especially Landslide where Cyrus’s natural talent shines eminently. Regardless of whether Cyrus’s performance was to your taste or not, it definitely wouldn’t be a surprise –nor harmful– if Cyrus inspires children and teens to listen, and buy oldies from the 80s. That’s what music is all about, right?

In addition to the covers, the show’s setlist had a great balance of songs — Cyrus performed all fan-favourites including 7 Things, Fly on the Wall, and Can’t Be Tamed much to the delight of the hyperactive crowd. In between, she slowed things down with pop-ballads such as Take Me Along, Scars and Driveway and also other notable power-ballads such as Stay, Obsessed, Forgiveness and Love.

And of course, the show inevitably closed with Cyrus’s infamous The Climb, leaving fans teary-eyed and awe-inspired.

But the fun wasn’t over yet as Cyrus returned to perform three encore songs that were distinctly fan-favourites as well: See You Again, My Heart Beats for Love, and finally, Who Owns My Heart.

Looking back at it, it was a fun, exhilarating show. Cyrus performed every song with great vocals and energetic disposition. Gypsy Heart, however, lacks in the usual pyrotechnics, aerial theatrics, choreographies and countless costume changes that were obvious highlights in Cyrus’s previous WonderWorld and Best of Both Worlds tours. The show also lacked in interaction with the crowd, as few words of inspiration and messages about the songs were being said, ultimately sounding very rehearsed. It would have benefited Cyrus and the audience if she introduced the less-known songs, but nevertheless, the audience did a great job at keeping up with her throughout the night.

The Gypsy Heart stage was very well built, as there were two side-catwalks and platforms that led to the top and bottom. Accompanying the setup was the main big screen (behind the stage) used as the central backdrop for visuals, along with the two screens on the side for fans viewing from far distance.

In terms of backdrop visuals, clips from music videos were used, and others had modern, edgy themes and moving visual clips to aid the songs. Most notable visuals were Liberty Walk, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, 7 Things, Kicking and Screaming, Landslide, The Climb and of course, My Heart Beats for Love (which had the Aussie flag in the background).

By the end of the day, it all comes down to the music and the overall show itself.

Gypsy Heart Tour ultimately affirms Cyrus is no overrated, scandalous teen superstar that everyone treats, judges, and believes her to be. Cyrus’s approach as an artist and performer vociferates that she is no wannabe — she wants to be viewed as an equal like any other artist/performer in the entertainment industry.

For an 18-year-old, Cyrus proves she’s the real deal. She doesn’t just have an authentic, versatile vocal talent — but she’s a performer who’s committed to sing songs and do her shows her own way (professionally as well). And despite Cyrus’s efforts of attempting to shake off her squeaky-clean Hannah Montana image — if people believe that she has lost the devotion from her young fans, then they are certainly wrong. Young fans were spotted having the time of their lives and singing along loudly to almost every song, even with Hannah Montana songs being absent from setlist.

So behind the scandals and other inexcusable criticisms, it is Cyrus, her talent and music that keeps (most) die-hard fans of all ages loyal to the end. After all, after many years of being Disney’s pawn and being her own artist/performer — she, Miley Cyrus — has the potential and is expected to perpetuate for a very long time. It’ll be interesting to see where she goes from here on.

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