Ariana Grande, the 22-year-old Florida-born singer and former Nickelodeon star, brought her “Honeymoon” tour to the Smoothie King Center on Friday night. In a show full of spectacle, the petite star was lifted onto the stage on a heavenly cloud and then lowered to it from a chandelier amid fog and lasers. Smoke, confetti and firecrackers filled the air. But the music and Grande’s lively personality were the evening’s centerpieces.
Nominated for Grammy Awards for best pop vocal album for “My Everything” and best pop duo/group performance for “Bang Bang” with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj, soprano Grande is known for hitting notes in a four-octave vocal range. (She credits Mariah Carey as her inspiration, but Carey never had Grande’s vocal ability.)
The “NOLA babes,” as Grande referred to the crowd, cheered as the pop singer was elevated to the stage and opened the show with “Bang Bang.” She pranced out in her signature cat ears and ponytail, wearing a black body suit and stilettos. With her were an array of dancers, a band, two violinists, a cellist and a disc jockey.
The DJ had his moment in the spotlight before “Right There,” when he did a tap dance number with sparkling tap shoes before Grande appeared onstage, coming down from the huge chandelier.
Grande became a sensation as a preteen, and she has years of experience as a singer and performer.
“NOLA, how are y’all feeling?” she yelled as she engaged the crowd before singing the 2013 song “Pink Champagne,” which was intended to be released on her first album, “Yours Truly.”
“If you don’t know it, that’s OK,” she said. “Just have fun anyway.”
And they did.
The crowd was ecstatic as Grande belted out the Motown-style ballad “Tattooed Heart,” lighting up the arena with their cellphones and illuminated cat ears.
The performance of “My Everything” started with the voice of Grande’s grandfather, who died in July 2014. “Don’t let them challenge you. Don’t let them intimidate you, and do your thing; that’s the only way to do it,” the voice advised.
Then Grande was elevated to the stage, accompanied by fog and a piano, to sing the tribute to her grandfather.
For most of the evening, the star wore a sparkling, fringed body suit that looked like something out of “The Great Gatsby,” with stilettos and a white feather boa for a throwback feel. The wardrobe for “My Everything” was a black baby-doll dress with a train attached — and her cat ears.
Throughout the show, Grande tackled various tracks from both her “My Everything” and “Yours Truly” albums, including “The Way,” “Problem” and “Break Free.”
For another song, Grande opened up with a video that featured the British singer Imogen Heap explaining how Grande’s mi.mu gloves worked in her performance when she sang “Why Try.” The black fingertip gloves alter her voice when she moves her hands in different directions.
With R&B and disco throwbacks, swing era, synthpop, mi.mu gloves, piano ballads, electronic and dance numbers, Grande has begun to display her command of a wide variety of pop styles. The young artist’s popularity seems destined to grow as she makes an even bigger name for herself.