UNIONDALE, New York — The shrill shrieks of fans piercing the ears of those around; best friends leaning on each other for support when emotions grew too overwhelming; sobbing teenage girls giving up their fight against tears for the night.
If we hadn't known any better, we'd have thought we just stepped right into a "Hunger Games" reaping. But upon closer observation, those shrill shrieks were from pure excitement, those best friends were embracing because they were so happy to be experiencing this moment together, and that girl sobbing one row back was crying tears of pride as her idol urged her to stay strong. That's right, this was Demi Lovato's Neon Lights Tour.
Lovato's much-anticipated tour finally "touched down on the East Coast" (see what I did there?) at Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night, and even with all the previews, teasers and mental preparedness I thought I had, I still wasn't ready for the show.
While I would love to recap the entire night — from Lovato playing drums, guitar, and piano, to the singer belting out her version of the Oscar-winning "Frozen" track "Let It Go" — I'll settle with presenting the top moments of the Neon Lights Tour.
All In The 'X-Factor' Family
The girls of Fifth Harmony hit the stage for a fun and carefree performance, including a cover of Destiny's Child's "Independent Women," showing off their impressive vocals — I heard those whistle tones, Normani! — and adorable dance moves. U.K. pop group Little Mix followed up with their infectious beats, hard-hitting dance moves, and impeccable vocals. They got the crowd going with their cover of En Vogue's "Don't Let Go" and an a cappella rendition of their song "How Ya Doin'?"
Demi Was Sick?!
The night before Lovato hit the stage at a packed Nassau Coliseum, she let the world know that she was sick. In fact, she even opted for a game of Pictionary instead of her regularly scheduled performance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," and canceled the VIP soundcheck she typically has before all of her shows. But being the trouper she is, the singer insisted that the show go on.
The last thing I would EVER want to do is cancel a show, with that being said I'm super sick tonight so it may not be my best show BUT I'm— demetria lovato (@ddlovato) March 12, 2014
SO excited to perform for you guys but I may need you to sing most of the show for me!!! Hahaha— demetria lovato (@ddlovato) March 12, 2014
Let me be the very first to say it: If she hadn't tweeted that she was sick, I would not have guessed it! Lovato's vocals were up to her usual standard, hitting her high notes, falsettos, and all-around incredible range like she could do it in her sleep. In fact, the first and only sign of her being under the weather came when the singer took a moment to speak intimately to the crowd, and her hoarse throat can be heard clearly.
Can We Have Waterworks With A Side Of Flipping The Bird?
Never has it been more acceptable for an arena packed with tween girls to flip the bird than when Lovato sings "Really Don't Care." As the singer triumphantly sang "I'll walk right up to you and put one finger in the air," she was met with no fewer than 15,000 middle fingers. And that was just the first sure sign of Lovato's teenage fans showing that they have a grungy side. Bras and the occasional trucker hat was thrown onstage, and when Lovato let her Shakira-like hip motions take center stage, I could've sworn I was in a sea of teenage boys.
But when the pink-haired "Heart Attack" singer took a moment to soak in the crowd, she let us all in on a very personal detail: it was at this very Coliseum last summer while here for "The X Factor" auditions that she got the news that her father had died. Lovato sang "Nightingale," a song she said took on new meaning after that. No fewer than two songs after that, the singer sat behind a piano to sing her emotionally raw song "Warrior," and the fans that managed to make it that far into the night without tears broke down — yes, even me.
Demi: Through the Years
With longtime pal and fellow musician Nick Jonas working as creative and musical director for the tour, he admitted that, "The biggest challenge has been just trying to rethink some of the music and see how we could compliment it with lights and video."
And that he did. The stage was fully equipped with lights that changed with every new song. Songs that I've heard countless times were reimagined to be almost entirely new songs — the most notable being a shift from the pop-rock original arrangement of "Here We Go Again" to a slowed-down version that allowed for the singer's high-notes to fly.
A screen at the back of the stage played Lovato's many music videos, as well as video content exclusive to the tour. When the "Made in the U.S.A." singer belted out "Warrior," a powerful video of her clad in a knight's armor played in the background. Our personal favorite was the montage of the singer's old videos, showing her evolution to where she is now — even embracing her "Camp Rock" roots with a few bars of "This Is Me."
But no moment was more powerful than the video of news clips of when the singer first announced she would be checking into rehab. The packed Coliseum grew quiet, perhaps even solemn, as the clips played. The mood quickly shifted as the news clips skipped forward to when Lovato made her healthy comeback, appearing at all the interviews with a brave smile and an open heart. Lovato walked onstage at that moment to sing her triumphant "Skyscraper," and was lifted above the crowd to show that she has truly risen above all she has gone through.
Lovato has 11 more shows here in North America before packing her bags and taking the Neon Lights Tour to South America.