By Juliana and Jason Menard,
London, Ontario may be right in the heart of Bieber country, but for one night the fairer half of the Jelena pairing owned the night — and the hearts of thousands of delighted girls — as Selena Gomez took to the stage at the John Labatt Centre for the We Own the Night Tour on Oct. 24, 2011.
In a departure from the normal #jlcreviewer format, tonight marks the inaugural #jlcjrreviewer experience — courtesy of this he-said/she-said review of the Selena Gomez & The Scene concert by myself and my Selena-loving daughter Juliana.
Christine Grimmie opened the show with a short set, heavy on the covers.
JU — “She was really good. She did two of her own songs and I really liked them. Also, she released her first album after starting on YouTube and I would listen to more of her music.”
JAY — “She was OK. A little too much with the ‘trying-to-sound-big’ flourishes and not so much with the ‘hitting all the right notes’, but for the first of two opening acts, she wasn’t too bad. I thought the shameless flogging of her CD at the end of her set was out of place. You’re on the big stage — act like it! This isn’t some corner club.”
Shawn Desman followed with a longer set that was heavy on the dance. The young girls in the crowd certainly were happy to see him, as evidenced by the piercing screeches coming from all around. The floor seating area was also a mass of bouncing, dancing youth, screaming in unison with Desman’s dance-pop-flavoured stylings.
JU — “His dancing was really good and sometimes his voice was good. Although there were only two songs I knew, I liked his performance. I liked how he talked to the audience and was telling us to sing along with him, clap our hands, and to get up and start dancing. His costumes were just OK, but I really liked the one he wore during the song Electric, because there were light bulbs and all kinds of cool light. The dancers were also really cool and electric.
JAY — “The 29-year-old Desman made me feel a little less old attending this concert. After all, I’m only a few years his senior, so we can relate! The music was what it was — if you’re a fan of it, he did a good job, although the vocals were a bit rough around the edges. I found him engaging with the crowd and the boy can dance — almost as well as I can!”
JU — “Mm-hmm.”
The crowd then built in anticipation as we awaited the star of the show. While the tour is billed under the Selena Gomez and The Scene brand, it was clear that the vast majority of attendees were there for the Wizards of Waverly Place star. Every second shirt seemed to bear the Princess Protection Program star’s face.
The lights went out, the crowd roared, and Gomez rose from the back of the stage singing her hit song A Year Without Rain.
JU — “We were sitting near the side of the stage, so we had a good view of the stage and the back area. We could see them getting ready, so I was watching for her to come. When I finally saw her, I was really happy. For the first songs she wore a beautiful, sparkly dress that was short in the front and long in the back. Her hair was really pretty. At the end of the song when she started talking, it sounded like she had a cold. When I saw her at the meet-and-greet before she sounded different too. But when she was singing I thought she sounded super-duper amazing.”
JAY — “She may have had a cold, so I think she may have had a little help from a backing track [I’m being generous here]. But I don’t think any of the kids that were there would have cared if she sat next to an iPod and mouthed the words. Selena was the scene and most of the fans were singing along with each and every word anyway.”
Gomez went through three costumes during the show: there was the opening Cleopatra-esque gold/brown dress, which was followed by a purple pant/midriff baring shirt combo topped by a headscarf. The final outfit was a blue, feathery dress.
JU — “I loved all of the costumes. They were all, basically, sparkly — and I like sparkly! I also loved her makeup.”
JAY — “Her makeup? How could you see it?”
JU — “I’m very good at noticing. I loved, loved, loved her red lipstick.”
Needless to say, Gomez has grown up since her early days as a guest on Hannah Montana. She’s absolutely stunning and is obviously well into womanhood — but at no point do you get the feeling that she was overtly selling sexuality. Yes, she wore semi-revealing clothing, but there remains a sense of decorum around her that’s so often missing in today’s modern starlets.
The concert featured all of Gomez’s songs, including Love You Like a Love Song, Naturally, Who Says, and Tell Me Something I Don’t Know. The encore finished with a crowd-pleasing version of her Magic cover. Some of the highlights of the show included some songs that weren’t even Gomez’s own!
JU — “I really liked when she did Super Bass by Nicki Minaj. She didn’t sound like her — it’s kind of hard to sound like Nicki Minaj — but she sounded good for what she did. She also did a medley of Britney Spears songs because when she was a little kid, her mom brought her to a concert. She was way up at the back of the seats, but even so she had the best time of her life. That’s what inspired her to be a musician and now she was sharing her love of Britney’s music. She said if you have the same dream as I had, don’t let it go — even if you’re not known right now.”
JAY — “I had read about her Minaj covers before, so I knew it was coming, but it was a fun part of the show. I thought the Britney section, while well done, didn’t really fit with Gomez’ image. After all, Selena’s a much more wholesome type and putting on Spears’ raunchier airs didn’t really fit her. I think she actually sang the final encore number and did a pretty good job of it too. It was a nice way to end the show and she kept sharing her message of positivity and self-value throughout. For people who are quick to criticize so-called Disneyfied Pop, there are worse things young girls can hear than ‘you’re beautiful no matter what’ and ‘keep working towards your dreams.’ You can be cynical all you want; I’m happy that Gomez is using her fame and popularity to preach a positive message to kids.”
The Scene, admittedly, is a modern-day Miami Sound Machine — sure, they’re on the marquee, but we all really know who the main star is. As a band, they were solid — there were no stand-out performances, but there were also no missteps. They were solid musicians who framed the show’s star nicely.
JU — “Her band was really good. At one point, Selena introduced them all and each one did a solo when she said their names. The dancers were OK, and I thought Selena really danced well.”
Gomez made a point of addressing all sections of the crowd — even those in the so-called “nosebleeds,” whom she made a point of singling out during the aforementioned Spears’ tribute. Yes, you could tell something was slightly off, but you also got the sense that Gomez truly appreciates and enjoys her fans. And it’s a feeling that’s reciprocated in spades.
JU — “At the end of the night, I really didn’t want the concert to end. If I could, I’d go to see her again, because it was amazing. I was really excited because I always wanted to see her and this was my first concert ever, so I really enjoyed it. I think this was the best first concert ever and I’ll never forget it.”