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Concert Reviews:
Selena Gomez makes stars, and fans, dance at The Palace

21st Century Media/Digital Media First, @GraffonMu

Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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AUBURN HILLS -- The irony should not be lost that last Thanksgiving week brought Justin Bieber to The Palace, and this year it was his ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez, doing the holiday honors.

And Gomez was only too happy to share a little insight about what she thought of her former beau on Tuesday night, Nov. 26, with an unplugged-style version of "Love Will Remember," the scathing post-breakup song from her "Stars Dance" album, as well as the introductory video that referenced the split.

But the 21-year-old singer and actress' 16-song, nearly 80-minute concert was hardly a downer. Rather, Gomez and company -- eight dancers, four musicians and two backing singers who still did a lot of the vocal heavy lifting -- presented a buoyant, celebratory show high on energy and refreshingly low on the over-choreographed, conceptual histrionics that have been done to near-death by her pop diva elders. Gomez wasn't swinging a wrecking ball on Tuesday, in other words; instead she looked like a young woman having some fun singing her songs for an audience overwhelmingly populated by deliriously happy girls half her age.

It was certainly age appropriate, too, barely crossing the PG line with some skin-baring costumes and occasional lyrics along the lines of "I want to find a place where we can be alone in the dark." Not exactly Madonna-worthy, eh?

That doesn't mean the show was bland, though. Following scream-inducing support sets by "X Factor" favorites Emblem3 (closing their run with Gomez) and YouTube sensation Christina Grimmie, Gomez introduced her performance with a video depicting her asleep at a desk, studying (non-dancing) star charts. In a dream, she faced four doors, each representing a segment of the show and bringing us back for visual interludes while she changed costumes.

She hit hard and fast, meanwhile, with an opening salvo of "Bang, Bang, Bang" and "Round & Round" from her Selena Gomez & the Scene days, the dancers twirling around her on both the main stage and an S-shaped ramp that jutted out into the Palace floor. The crew vamped through "Like a Champion" while "B.E.A.T." morphed into "Work" before she took a breather.

Other highlights included a mash-up of "Birthday and Birthday Cake," a genuinely pretty cover of Priscilla Ahn's "Dream" during which Gomez played harmonica, and solid renditions of the Scene's "Who Says" and "Whiplash." A spray of red streamers towards finale "Slow Down," meanwhile, was Gomez's only nod towards pyrotechnics.

Gomez may well add spectacle as she goes along in her musical career. But on Tuesday, as a relatively new arena headliner, she didn't reach beyond what her skills and repertoire could support, a wise approach that only served to benefit her show.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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