Neither the members of DNCE nor Selena Gomez — or the 13,500 fans at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre — could’ve known about the thrashing the Raptors were taking from the Cavaliers when they donned Raptors jerseys onstage to wild applause. Cocooned inside the venue, the young mainly female crowd was enraptured with the concert, not caring a whit about the playoff game on TV above the one lone bar out in the arena concourse (where some parents and EMS watched the point spread widen to embarrassment 116-78).
Nor did it matter that Beyoncé was playing to 45,000 people a couple of blocks away at Rogers Centre. The Raptors’ unexpected advance in the playoffs meant Ms. Gomez had to switch her Ottawa date with Toronto’s, therefore going head to head with Queen Bee and forcing some ticket-holders to make that difficult choice. Selena or Beyoncé? Those numbers were negligible though. Gomez’ show was still a sell-out, according to Live Nation.
The 23-year-old, who kicked off her global Revival tour earlier this month, zipped through a 20-song set in 75 minutes — and that included several costumes changes for which the singer disappeared for minutes at a time, while her live band performed and images of her flashed on the screen. No one seemed to mind. The kids were happy just watching beautiful video clips of her.
The set started with “Revival,” the title track from her 2015 decidedly more “grown up” album, and went right into its sultry smash “Same Old Love.” She sang most of the Revival deluxe edition tracks from there, including “Kill Em with Kindness,” “Sober,” “Good for You,” “Hands to Myself,” “Me & the Rhythm,” “Me & My Girls,” “Survivor,” “Body Heat” and “Nobody.”
She also dug back into her earlier catalogue — yes, she has a catalogue; she’s released five studio albums, three with her band Selena Gomez & the Scene — for “Come & Get It” and “Slow Down” from her 2013 solo debut, Stars Dance, and the Scene’s “Love You Like a Love Song” and “Who Says.” She also did Zedd’s “I Want to Know You,” the track she’s the featured singer on, and the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.”
The set was sparse, except for some moveable props, such as pyramids and giant exercise balls her dance crew used and moved for various songs. The most elaborate staging was a chariot pulled by dancers ultimately with her in it and the most subtle, a simple grand piano front and centre. It was here that Gomez’ shined, alone. From behind the keys, she sang “Transfiguration” from Australian worship band Hillsong United, a beautiful moment which highlighted her talent and showed she will easily be able to move out of the pop realm if she chooses later in life.
But for now, she’s full out showgirl.
Prior to that, DNCE impressed the crowd. From the Game of Thrones bombastic opening, the wacky misfits — the clean cut Joe Jonas on lead vocals; ex-Semi Precious Weapons’ bassist and anything goes fashion statement Cole Whittle; rock drummer Jack Lawless; and stylin’ guitarist JinJoe Lee — played a 40-minute workout that included considerable jumping and party tunes like “Cake By The Ocean” and new single “Toothbrush” but also covers and medleys like TLC’s “No Scrubs” and a Prince/James Brown mashup of “Kiss” and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.”
When they returned for their own encore, all four wore red Raptors tanks. They even replaced the D-N-C-E light cubes with the Raptors logo for instant points. They walked off to a recording of Queens’ “We Are The Champions” and they definitely were of the night. No comment on the Raps.
Watch: DNCE at the Billboard Music Awards 2016 Red Carpet