What a difference a year makes — especially for Demi Lovato.
Just before playing “Skyscraper” on Wednesday (Nov. 16) during the first show of her “Unbroken World Tour” — her first headlining trek — at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, the 19-year-old former Disney Channel star reminded her room full of standing, screaming fans that at this time in 2010 she was in a treatment facility after suffering an emotional breakdown. She was scared, not sure if she’d have a career left but bolstered by fan letters telling her “it’s going to be alright.”
And now Lovato’s back, bowed but “Unbroken” — albeit a bit opening-night tentative as she moved through the briskly paced 75-minute concert.
The message gleaned from the show was that while she’s mostly celebrated for her starring turns in “Sonny With a Chance” and the “Camp Rock” movies, Lovato has also assembled a sizable body of her own music. Save for a cover of the Christina Aguilera/Maroon5 single “Moves Like Jagger,” set up to spotlight her four dancers, Lovato focused entirely on her three albums — nothing from “Camp Rock,” no nods to her guest appearances on other artists’ songs. The new “Unbroken” album, not surprisingly, was the focus with nine songs played, but Lovato strapped on a guitar for a combo of earlier favorites “Catch Me” and “Don’t Forget,” and she packaged “Get Back,” “Here We Go Again” and “La La Land” into a buoyant medley.
Bolstered by a four-piece band and two backing vocalists, Lovato moved easily around the low-key, two-tier stage and changed outfits four times — once into a furry vest that looked like it was nicked from “The Flintstones” prop closet and, for the encores, combining two of her previous looks in a decidedly non-diva fashion. Her between-song patter, which felt a smidge too scripted, certainly pleased the sign-wielding faithful, though Lovato’s attempt to wade into the seats during “Skyscraper” only lasted a few seconds before the aisle became impassable.
And her occasional attempts to join the choreography were stiff and awkward; better, perhaps, to leave that to the dancers while Lovato concentrates on her singing and nailing the emotive, sustained crescendos of “My Love is Like a Star,” “Fix a Heart” and “Together.” And there was an etiquette issue; after a crunchy “Remember December,” the show just… ended. No bows or thank-yous — or even confetti. Yes, Lovato gave plenty of props to her fans throughout the night, but certain niceties are still required.
Just consider that part of the seasoning of the first-time headliner.
Demi Lovato’s opening night set list included:
All Night Long
Medley: Catch Me/Don’t Forget
Who’s That Boy
My Love is Like a Star
Fix a Heart
Medley: Get Back/Here We Go Again/La La Land
Moves Like Jagger