After releasing not one, but two record-breaking bodies of work in less than a year, and reaching new heights in her career — such as joining The Beatles as the only acts to ever occupy the top three positions on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, American pop artist Ariana Grande embarked on the 'Sweetener World Tour' to further promote her fourth studio album Sweetener (2018) and its follow-up thank u, next (2019).
The European leg of the tour started in London, on August 17th; and exactly one month later, Grande takes the stage at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow for her first show in Scotland since 2015's 'Honeymoon Tour'.
The concert starts with ‘Boyfriend’ collaborators Social House. Grande’s biggest supporters know the R&B/Pop duo as two of her closest friends, but most spectators have probably not heard their debut EP 'Everything Changed...'. Of course, that does not stop Mikey and Scootie from delivering a highly energetic performance of several songs from the project including standout track ‘Tropical Rain’ with nothing but two microphones and a backpack. Their enthusiasm is very contagious, and they applaud their audience for singing along to hit single ‘Magic in the Hamptons’. But the best part of Social House’s set is undeniably the final one, a chilling performance of ‘Haunt You’, accompanied by thousands of flashlights moving in harmony to the American duo’s dreamy vocals.
Next up is English singer Ella Mai. The R&B singer and her band perform tracks from her self-titled debut album and deliver a beautiful rendition of her Ed Sheeran collaboration ‘Put It All On Me’, that arguably surpasses the studio version. Much like Social House, Mai conquers the hearts of the audience with smooth deep cuts like ‘10,000 Hours’ and ‘Naked’, as well as Grammy winning song ‘Boo’d Up’ and concludes an undeniably great set with her hit single ‘Trip’.
After two amazing support acts, the public’s excitement is at its peak, and as the big screen lights up and sets the mood, the screams intensify until Ariana Grande’s voice is finally heard, singing ‘raindrops’ from below the stage. The opening track sets the tone for a night of impressive vocals, Grande’s biggest asset, which she effortlessly showcases on controversial and critically acclaimed hit ‘God is a woman’ before the ambiance darkens for a mysterious and sensual choreographed performance of ‘bad idea’ and ‘break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored’.
After a heartwarming interlude of videos from Ariana’s childhood, the megastar returns to the stage with an act full of fan-favourite tracks. Fans sing along to ‘R.E.M’ (“excuse me umm… I love you”) and some even execute the choreography to ‘Be Alright’. Grande proceeds to showcase her rap skills on Nicki Minaj’s verse from their international hit ‘Side to Side’ and her sassy-savage attitude on US & UK chart topping single ‘7 rings’.
Eye-grabbing visuals accompany the next interlude ‘Adore’, and Ariana returns for the most emotional part of the night with songs like ‘Love Me Harder’ and ‘fake smile’. But the real highlight here is her incredible performance of ‘breathin’, a radio hit about Grande’s anxiety following the tragic terrorist attack that occurred after her concert in Manchester, in 2017. The vulnerable lyrics coupled with the singer’s jaw-dropping vocals give the show its most powerful moment. Grande then proceeds to apply lipstick while singing the comedic lyrics to ‘make up’ and satisfies her nostalgic supporters with a medley of her early R&B tracks. The set ends with a moon-like sphere coming from the ceiling to accompany the space-themed anthem ‘NASA’ and the fan-favourite ballad ‘Only 1’, the scene feels like a dream.
The stage production and lighting keep getting better in the fourth act with two standout tracks from Grammy winning album Sweetener, Ariana delivers astonishing high notes on ‘everytime’ and trippy vibes for ‘the light is coming’. The audience then sings and dances along to 2016’s highly acclaimed ‘Into You’. This set is followed by yet another video interlude, this time of Grande covering ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’, nailing the Marilyn Monroe aesthetics. During her last act Grande goes all out, with another impressive performance of career defining hit ‘Dangerous Woman’, an homage to her LGBTQ+ friends and fans with pride anthem ‘Break Free’ and a beautiful rendition of 2018 comeback single ‘No Tears Left To Cry’. The public’s excitement is unmatched, and Ariana exists the stage. The encore is followed by a video, featuring some of the singer’s recent achievements and photos taken with her friends, that introduces the last song of the night, Grande’s massively successful positive break-up anthem ‘thank u, next’ which concludes the show on a lighthearted note that perfectly communicates Ariana’s love and devotion to her friends and fanbase.
Overall Grande clearly does not disappoint. With an impressive catalogue, unbelievable vocals, extremely professional and well thought off stage production and lighting, and most importantly undeniable love for her craft and her supporters, Ariana Grande proves she is deserving of her massive success and her title as this generation’s princess of pop.