“I can do so much better,” apologised Demi Lovato towards the end of her set, to an army of mostly young women who had been firmly on her side for every moment of the show. Earlier in the week vocal problems had caused the child star turned adult pop superstar to cancel shows in London and Birmingham, and it was unclear until earlier in the day whether Glasgow would suffer the same fate. Yet for anyone who hadn’t been watching Twitter updates on Lovato’s health for the past 48 hours, it would have been difficult to see why the American might have been unhappy with her performance.
Demi Lovato, Hydro, Glasgow ***
This was a big-budget arena production focused upon a woman with a particular brand of star quality which isn’t predicated upon being alien and unrelatable, but rather being as much like her audience as possible. For all that Lovato enjoyed a pounding boxer’s entry before Confident or rolled around on a bed with a pair of handsome male dancers during Lonely, she also prefaced the strikingly defiant Sorry Not Sorry with examples of abusive, body-shaming tweets she has been sent, and – in a moment so truly open and emotional that it felt intimately unscripted – discussed her own struggles with bipolar disorder. The message was clear; that no-one in her young crowd should feel second-rate or unable to be as honest to their friends or family if they feel the same.
Much of Lovato’s set comes out of the well-thumbed arena pop playbook, from the “kiss-cam” (whoever in the audience the camera alights on must give each other a kiss) to the mellow acoustic break during Confident and the joyous dance sequences of Solo and Warrior. Yet as a real, relatable person, Lovato stands head and shoulders above many of her peers.