Lizzo’s American Express UNSTAGED concert took place right on the beach, just steps from the Miami Beach EDITION hotel, with the singer performing for a few hundred Amex card members in person and thousands of fans who were able to stream the concert via the live streaming site LIVENow.
Kicking the show off with her latest single, “Rumors” (song partner Cardi B was coincidentally just a few blocks away, launching her vodka-infused “Whipshots” at the Goodtime Hotel), Lizzo’s Miami performance was just the second time the singer has taken the stage for a live show since the pandemic began. Though she revealed that she had been battling a sinus infection for three days (“My nose is stuffed up with so much green stuff it’s like my bank account,” she quipped), it was evident from the time she set foot on stage that she was here to have a good time.
“We’ve been through some s— in 2020, but I’m excited to be here to not just do this for me, but to do this for you,” she said, before launching into “Good as Hell,” backed by an all-female band and eight dancers (a.k.a. her “Big Grrrls”).
The singer ran through a tightly-choreographed, 70-minute set, which also included her hits “Truth Hurts” and “Juice,” along with brief covers of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” and even a Chris Evans-directed version of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone.” (“Maybe I should call Chris Evans, so Captain America could put another bun up in my oven,” she sang, before adding, “Maybe I should call back Drake.”)
WHY AM I THIS WAYYYYYY 😩 https://t.co/QGXv8EZsop
— ALL THE RUMORS ARE TRUE (@lizzo) December 5, 2021
The unofficial theme for the evening according to Lizzo was “Breathe, B—-,” and the two words were prominently displayed on stage behind the singer. “I was so caught up in fear [last year] that I forgot to breathe,” she explained, about the significance of her now-mantra. “When I breathe, I bring life back to my joy.”
“This has been one of the craziest years I’ve ever witnessed,” she said later on in the show, “and to be present in my body right now and to be able to do this for you right now is a blessing and I’m so grateful.”
Lizzo’s concert marked the last American Express UNSTAGED event of 2021, and company reps say there was no better person to help celebrate the return of live music.
“Lizzo has continued to grow and really develop her voice, especially over the past few years, of just living authentically and highlighting racial injustices and different issues that are happening all over the world,” says Brandy D. Sanders, vice president, global entertainment experiences & partnerships, American Express, who heads up the company’s UNSTAGED partnerships. “As we think about American Express and even just personally as a woman of color, this is really special to be able to highlight diverse and inclusive artists and really give them a platform for the whole world to see their magic. We are so pumped,” Sanders says, “to be able to bring Lizzo’s Black girl magic to the whole world.”
While Saturday’s in-person event was reserved for American Express cardholders and select fans who were able to snag a ticket online, Lizzo’s set was able made available for live streaming via LIVENow. Sanders says it was important for American Express to provide an experience not just for card members, but for everyone.
“What we’re so excited about is that we’re also shooting this for our fans around the world,” Sanders says. “We’re obviously in a new day and age, and now we are bringing together for the first time ever, this new iteration of a ‘live plus digital’ hybrid.”
The American Express UNSTAGED program launched just over 10 years ago, and the concert series has featured partnerships with everyone from Coldplay and John Legend to Alicia Keys and Shawn Mendes. American Express also offers card member-only shows, like LCD Soundsystem’s residency at Brooklyn Steel this month, and the company partners with artists like Harry Styles, with the Amex team creating a “Love Bus” installation during Styles’ “Love on Tour” dates in 2019.
Up next for American Express members: ticket presale access and limited-edition merch bundles to Mendes’ 2022 “Wonder,” which will also have a special front-of-stage pit available exclusively for Amex members.
While Sanders says that every artist has brought something unique to the table, she admits that it’s always nice to see some of the artists’ careers grow alongside the UNSTAGED platform.
“I feel like every artist that we work with is so special, and obviously there are some that we work with multiple times over time — Lizzo being one of them,” she says. “We have a long history of working with Lizzo, starting with the Cuz I Love You Tour in 2019,” Sanders continues, “and it was amazing because she was actually in this very crazy trajectory at that time where it was starting very small, but she was growing. When you got to see those performances, they were in small clubs and theaters and nobody had anticipated her growth. Now,” Sanders says, “it’s so sweet to be able to bring it full circle.”