17 Oct 2011

Selena Gomez owns the night at Rexall

As Gomez showed Sunday night, it wasn’t the bubbly brunette’s celebrity status as a tween television siren or Justin Bieber’s main squeeze that put fans under the petite pop star’s spell.

Not even the Disney actress’s live show, which was a fine mixture of classic big-production elements such as shimmering lights and impressive backup dancers, was the reason a sold-out Rexall crowd of glow stick-wielding fans soaked up every lyric the 19-year-old singer belted.

Rather, it was Gomez’s positive words and illustrious sincerity that made fans feel as beautiful as the perfectly polished singer.

During her first stop on the Canadian leg of her We Own the Night tour, Gomez dished out Halloween cupcakes to fans in Victoria. Before her Edmonton show Sunday night, Gomez went out of her way to greet fans at West Edmonton Mall.

Gomez, who appears incredibly grown-up for her age, is also a tender-hearted creature with intense regard for the living, squealing things that plaster their bedroom walls with her face. To boot, she provides just enough confidence-boosting wisdom in her music to make you feel good about yourself (perhaps a hearkening back to her Barney & Friends days) without making you want to hurl.

Like her contemporary Taylor Swift, Gomez makes music that has become the soundtrack for the modern angst-filled teenager. She speaks to an audience that finds itself at various emotional and physical crossroads, giving them a fluffy pink pillow to lean on during the most tumultuous times of their lives.

But even though her target market is of the young female variety, adults seem to have embraced her mettle as well. Considering how many parents knew the words to her songs, it seems a much larger demographic has taken to Gomez’s altruism.

Starting her 90-minute set 10 minutes early — probably a friendly gesture to all of the preteen curfews being broken — Gomez emerged in a sparkling tan dress singing Year Without Rain, off her 2010 album of the same name. Little girls decked in Gomez memorabilia shoved their glow sticks in the air and shrieked as they hopped about. Chaperoning moms clapped along and smiled.

“Tonight we can dance and do whatever we want,” Gomez told the audience. Fans obliged, with many choosing to wave their little glow-sticked arms in the air the entire evening.

Gomez’s tiny frame was a speck on the enormous stage, which was relatively bare save for a surrounding staircase and a few big screens. She shone during a number of her songs, such as Hit the Lights and We Own the Night, but other times she was but a dim flicker that got lost in the sea of spotlights, such as on Round & Round.

During Bang Bang Bang, Gomez danced around in a glittering midriff-baring top and matching burka. Neon confetti sprung from the rafters mid-song and elicited more squeals from the crowd.

As When the Sun Goes Down and Intuition rolled around, the sharp show began to sag. Too many songs had been strung together at that point without pause, a costume change or anything remotely exciting happening. The big screens also seemed to fall asleep, flickering and blacking out for a few minutes.

Some kids took the opportunity to slouch back into their seats and tinker with their glow sticks (seriously, they were fascinated by those multicoloured wands). Others continued to fist pump like tiny Guidos.

“I’m going to take you all the way back to my first single, so if you know it please sing along!” Gomez said before launching into another sub-par song, Falling Down.

For Rock God, Gomez (thankfully) made a wardrobe switch, opting for a flowing cyan blue dress. You have to give her credit: Gomez’s outfits bestowed an air of sophistication and class onto the young star.

Perhaps Avril Lavigne, who drew maybe one-third of the crowd a week earlier at Rexall, should take a few cues from Gomez on maturity.

After a brief video message, in which Gomez described herself as “Britney’s No. 1 fan,” she proceeded to pay tribute to Spears with a six-song medley of hits. Cute.

Of course, Who Says was saved for the encore. It was a scene straight out of a Dove commercial. Thousands of girls sang along, embracing every word.

Gomez told every impressionable girl that they were perfect, a message that will surely impact them a few years from now.

“All of you are so beautiful and so amazing. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not,” Gomez implored.

Compared with Gomez, openers Christina Grimmie and Shawn Desman were entirely forgettable. In addition to coming off slightly creepy (Desman is nearly 30), the Canadian R&B singer didn’t seem to match the demographic in attendance. Few kids even knew who he was.

Oh well. At least the adults got to sing along to some of those old club-thumping nuggets like Shook.

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