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Live review: Miley Cyrus' 'Wonder World' concert at Staples Center

The tween sensation sings and even raps with ease but offers very few glimpses of a real, more truly compelling Miley.

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The last time Miley Cyrus toured North America, in 2007, she didn't make the trip alone. Her money-minting "Best of Both Worlds" road show featured sets by both Cyrus and her Disney Channel alter ego, Hannah Montana, and as is often the case in this town, reality didn't always come out on top.

At a Honda Center stop in Anaheim, Cyrus, then 14, struggled to express herself in a way that lived up to her on-screen persona; when the concert climaxed with a virtual duet between Cyrus and a video version of Hannah, one of the girls seemed more two-dimensional than the other.

Nearly two years later, Cyrus is out on her own on the "Wonder World" tour, which hit Staples Center on Tuesday before a show at Honda on Wednesday. She wasn't in competition with Hannah this time, but Cyrus still had to battle herself.

MILEY_2_WI_

About halfway through the 90-minute set, after presenting a preview of her upcoming film, "The Last Song," Cyrus sang her tune "When I Look at You" while clips from the movie played on giant video screens positioned around the stage. Once again, make-believe Miley was more compelling than the real thing.

Her problem wasn't a lack of charisma. Cyrus stalked the stage at Staples with superstar authority, executing complicated dance sequences with an effortlessness that suggested this is simply what 16-year-old girls do with their pals.

During a cover of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," Cyrus rode a candy-apple Harley-Davidson over some audience members' heads, and she seemed so natural on the airborne bike that you wondered how long she's been in the business of flight.

Cyrus' trouble wasn't related to her material, either. Tuesday's show featured no shortage of crafty tween-rock gems, including "Fly on the Wall" and "7 Things," both up-tempo highlights from last year's "Breakout," as well as "See You Again," the first track from her first non-Hannah effort, "Meet Miley Cyrus."

She also performed the best cuts from her new Wal-Mart-exclusive mini-album, "The Time of Our Lives," which was released in conjunction with Cyrus' clothing line for the discount retailer. Her seven-piece band gave "Kicking and Screaming" a surprising hard-rock heft, while Cyrus managed a reasonable approximation of a rapper in "Party in the U.S.A."

In that song Cyrus changed a Jay-Z shout-out to a Michael Jackson one, her second reference to the King of Pop after a brief interpolation of "Thriller" into "Fly on the Wall."

Instead, Cyrus failed Tuesday -- as she did on her last outing -- to give her fans a deeper idea of who she is and what her music means. For all its eye-popping detail, the concert offered nothing that viewers of her TV show or buyers of her records don't already know about her.

Skeptics of computerized pop argue that this kind of music isn't built for meaning, but that's demonstrably untrue. Last week at the same venue, Pink spent two hours fleshing out her persona not by rejecting spectacle but by embracing it. Cyrus, on the other hand, seemed unable, or unwilling, to go beneath the skin.

--Mikael Wood

Photo credits: WireImage

 
Comments () | Archives (48)

She's the daughter of "Achey, Breaky, Heart." That should say it all. She was just marketed really well to the tween audience by some smart gay Disney execs and that is why she's famous. Period. End of story. Please go away.

omg !!! i am her biggest fan in the WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

she is still a kid, and she had a rather charmed life, let her have fun, her target audience don't care about the deep stuff, teenagers want to have fun!!!!!!!!

Interesting critique. I do have a serious question. Where along your path did you forget that concerts are for entertainment and not the psychological profile of the performer? She succeeded in entertaining. I really don't know what you succeeded at with this review.

I attend last night concert with my daughter. One thing I have to say, is that I wont buy again tickets to Miley's concert. She lacks presentation and seem not to connect with her fans. It was not a good show, I would of prefered to watch it on tv.

you are a twit....the concert was great, she rocked the house, and the only failure of the evening was when you sat down with your laptop and typed up your so-called review...

I took my 10 year old niece (now 12 year old niece) to one of the the Best of Both World tour concerts a couple of years back for her birthday. I had to wear earplugs the whole time, the girl cant carry a note to save her life, and she was not even that pretty. I doubt much has changed. Celebrity and fame are truly wasted on Miley Cyrus, she has to be one of the most untalented celebrities out there. It is truly pathetic that tweens will get their parents to buy any piece of crap that is marketed and crammed down their collective throats. Thank god my now almost 13 year old niece thinks Miley is a joke and does NOT have any interest in attending any of her new tour concerts, because i would have bought some new earplugs and taken her.

I was there last night and i had lots of fun!! the concert was great and the perfomances were really great. I dont reallly know why everyone is complaining it was worth it!!

i dont are wat people say but mley is awesome shes her own person shes like a friend that i dont have next to me shes in my head shes on tour she makes me believe in my dream in singing KEEP ROCKIN MILEY

I think Miley is a great person 4 her actions. so what if Miley doesnt give her fans a deeper idea of who she is... just be glad she actually put on the show 4 u ppl!

Just what sort of horrible, personal demon would you like her to reveal onstage? I get it. You are too old and you like Pink better.

i agree with gogo..
i was never a fan of her and i will never be..
her voice is husky, her music is stupid,
sorry if i anyone of the miley fans were mad about my comment..
it's just that she isint my style..
i like Selena Gomez & Hilary Duff & Taylor Swift and many others like vanessa hudgens..

--Instead, Cyrus failed Tuesday -- as she did on her last outing -- to give her fans a deeper idea of who she is and what her music means. For all its eye-popping detail, the concert offered nothing that viewers of her TV show or buyers of her records don't already know about her.--
x
Mikal Wood, are you serious? Who is she and what does her music mean? She is a teen-aged bubblegum singer/product, and her music does not mean anything - this is not exactly Joni Mitchell we're talking about here.

So Miley "failed to give her fans a deeper idea of who she is and what her music means." Everyone already knows th0se answers. 1) She is a Disney-manufactured product and 2) Her music, put together by a team of songwriters and musicians, means $$$$ in the bank for Disney and the Cyrus family.

I was at the show last night with my daughter. Miley is not talented, but who cares? The kids love her and that's what matters. However, the opening act, Metro Station, was inappropriate for an arena full of young girls. Those two boys, siblings of Cyrus and other Disney stars, acted like clowns, I thought.

I agree with the review in that she just needs to open up a little more between songs and personalize the venue that she is singing in.

It almost seemed like she was rehearsing to an empty stadium. She barely acknowledged that 20,000 people we cheering her on.

She doesn't have to tell a long story, just give the audience SOMETHING that has not been rehearsed 200 times.

hi
are you miley cyrus if you are can you are can you email me back i watch your show ever saturday i wish it could be on more and i was at the last concert and i loved it i loved all the songs you sang

Well Buy

Tiarne

Her music is actually very relatable for the target audience, and I think if the fans want to, they can divulge lots of information about her based on how she is on stage. And to be frank, if I am at a concert and spend more time thinking about who they are behind the music than actually watching and listening, than I'd want my money back.

"Disney music" is a tough sell to a musically-inclined audience, anyway; a little soul from the artist generally squeaks out while its bulk screams pop commercialism and artificiality, and this even happens to the best of them...

i'd say you probably get less of this from Jonas or Lovato, even Duff (and Musso, at times), because they work very hard to individuate their TV personas from their musical personas (Duff, of course, completely retired as Lizzie Maguire), but we see the results of Miley as a matured version of Hannah Montana onstage who hasn't quite shown us Miley the real musician (who completely broke away from the HM sound) yet.

does she sufficiently entertain? does she have a slick, seamless stage act? does she captivate her audience? of course she does, these things are inarguably true, but these are just a few things that might make a great musician.

a proper question you asked is, is she compelling? another would be, is her music saying something new, something we've never quite heard before? can the music stand on its own, relative to what has been heard since the first Pop sounds have been recorded?

i think Miley has a long way to go as a true, musical artist, because what we are still seeing evidence of are strains of a thinned-out Hannah trying to reach the other side.

she tries hard, though, gotta give her that.

I've never been to one of her concerts before but I do love washing her show on Disney. All of you guys needs to stop complaining about her. She's a great singer and also a teenager no one is perfect she's not the first or last who makes mistake in her career EVERYONE IS NOT THE SAME JUST LET HER BE WHO SHE IS NOW.

First of all, Miley's concert ROCKED!!!
Now let's try to get into the reviewers reality. Here we have a very young girl, growing up, hired by Disney to do Pop music. She has some Country roots, so she doesn't mind countrifying some of her music. She hangs out with dancers who are heavily into beat music: Hip Hop, Rap, Dance. Like everyone, she enjoys a good ballad. Even her earliest music had Rock influences, in fact her dad was heavily criticised for mixing Country and Rock. So who is she?
You will see on her next Tour!
Part of what made the Best Of Both Worlds tour such a phenomenon, I believe, is that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Hannah Montana\Miley. Because she was growing up, you would never see it's like again. The same is true for this tour. The tour is about who's she's been lately with a small preview of who she will become.
Listen to her recent interview with the Portland radio station Z100 (and previous interviews, if you pay attention), and you will know your answer. Miley is, at heart, a Rocker! Her cover of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll," and "Kicking and Screaming" are samples of what her next tour will be like. Rock and Roll with a few Ballads thrown in.
If you love a spectacular concert with hits like Fly on the Wall, Party in the USA, The Hoedown Throwdown, G.N.O., etc., go and see this concert. You won't get a chance to hear those songs, live, at her next tour.
Peace and Love to all Miley fans.

First of all, Miley's concert ROCKED!!!
Now let's try to get into the reviewers reality. Here we have a very young girl, growing up, hired by Disney to do Pop music. She has some Country roots, so she doesn't mind countrifying some of her music. She hangs out with dancers who are heavily into beat music: Hip Hop, Rap, Dance. Like everyone, she enjoys a good ballad. Even her earliest music had Rock influences, in fact her dad was heavily criticised for mixing Country and Rock. So who is she?

You will see on her next Tour!

Part of what made the Best Of Both Worlds tour such a phenomenon, I believe, is that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Hannah Montana\Miley. Because she was growing up, you would never see it's like again. The same is true for this tour. The tour is about who's she's been lately with a small preview of who she will become.
Listen to her recent interview with the Portland radio station Z100 (and previous interviews, if you pay attention), and you will know your answer. Miley is, at heart, a Rocker! Her cover of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll," and "Kicking and Screaming" are samples of what her next tour will be like. Rock and Roll with a few Ballads thrown in.
If you love a spectacular concert with hits like Fly on the Wall, Party in the USA, The Hoedown Throwdown, G.N.O., etc., go and see this concert. You won't get a chance to hear those songs, live, at her next tour.
Peace and Love to all Miley fans.

To Mikael Wood,
You might want to have lunch with whoever wrote the uncredited The Lists: Pop Music, september 20, LA Times. He seems to have a good handle on what's going on with Miley, reprinted below:

"Miley Cyrus Cyrus is in the midst of a transition from squeaky-clean tween pop starlet to a more rock-centric persona, but expect all sides to emerge at this arena blowout, with the synth-punk of her older brother Trace's band Metro Station as the opener. Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., L.A. Tue., 7 p.m. $39.50-$79.50. (213) 742-7300"

Obviously, the failure was that the wrong person was chosen to review Miley's show. You have an inability to appreciate tween/teen pop culture. You must not have any young ppl in your family. Stick to Pink and her deep, meaningful music.

I was at the concert on Tuesday and I've been to a lot of concerts and I must say Miley really had an entertaining concert. It was GREAT!!! My daughters were so excited to see her and she did a OUTSTANDING job. Miley--if you read this, DO NOT pay attention to the critics, you did a wonderful job and I will be at your next concert with my daughters again!!!

 
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