Lizzo cemented her pop icon status at Auckland’s Spark Arena on Wednesday night.
The four-time Grammy winner was clearly in high spirits as she dazzled fans with an exceptional vocal performance, donning two glamorous outfits as she powered through a series of her fabulous hits.
Celebrating the final leg of her Special Tour, not a beat was missed as Lizzo dedicated the night to connecting with her fans while preaching the importance of self-love and confidence, familiar territory for the effervescent performer.
Her songs, which celebrate femininity, being bold and owning beauty, were ecstatically received by the New Zealand crowd, and quite the party ensued as she made Spark Arena a place of inclusivity and acceptance for the night.
After serenading everyone with “Juice”, Lizzo paused to take it all in, tears welling up in her eyes as a smile flashed across her face. This happened several times throughout the night, evidence of Lizzo’s genuine gratitude toward her fans.
“We not going to have this moment ever again so we going to bring it up tonight,” she said at one point. “Let’s show the big girl some love.”
Below, check out Rolling Stone AU/NZ‘s five highlights from Lizzo’s show.
Understanding The Audience
With just three words, Lizzo let Tāmaki Makaurau know she had arrived. “Good evening Auckland,” she yelled out after her second song “Juice”. “Welcome to the last night of this special tour. The last arena show of my first ever arena tour.”
Proudly holding up a “taonga” she had been gifted, she expressed thanks for being in Aotearoa. “Do Kiwis know how to twerk? There’s only one way to find out,” she gleefully asked.
That Girl’s Got Pipes
In a world where we now have the technology to make someone sound much better than they really are, or even to make music from an artist without the artist present at all, it was refreshing to hear Lizzo really, really sing.
She gorgeously executed all of her songs, taking a well-deserved offstage reset between every few belted anthems.
When it came time for renditions of “Jerome”, Coldplay’s “Yellow”, and “I Love You Bitch”, she really shined. The audio was crisp and clear, leaving her pitch-perfect tones to float around the arena, showcasing her extensive and exquisite range.
And a special mention goes to her ability on the flute – this, as all Lizzo fans had hoped, popped up a number of times and sent everyone absolutely wild.
Diversity, Representation & Self-Love
Much of Lizzo’s messaging to her fans is about learning to love everything about the way you are. “When was the last time you said something kind about yourself?” she asked the crowd with genuine concern last night.
While her dancers included some men, there was a strong female presence onstage, with her all-girl band sounding truly exceptional, moving from one hit to another with impeccable timing.
Lizzo appeared proud to share the stage with them, thanking her crew, dancers, and band multiple times.
As they moved through solos in one section, her band member’s names appeared onscreen – drummer Michel’Le Baptiste, Zuri Appleby on bass, Lynette Williams rocking keyboard and a guitar, and Jordan Waters who was a fan favourite after nailing multiple solos on the electric guitar.
Lizzo also gave a shout out to her LGBTQIA+ audience members when launching into her hit “Everybody’s Gay”. “Tell the person next to you ‘you’re special,'” she ordered – and everyone did.
There can’t be many artists who take as much with their audience as Lizzo does. While it often threatened to drag on a little too long, it was a really beautiful aspect of the show.
Not only did Lizzo take selfies with people in the front row, she asked the cameras to pan to fans holding signs so the whole stadium could see them as she got a closer look and read out what they said.
“I ditched my man just for you Lizzo,” one read; another had tweets from an eight-year-old supporter.
Not even Rawiri Waititi, co-leader of Te Pāti Māori, could escape being called out by the pop star. He was blasted onto the big screens after Lizzo spotted his hat, telling him “you are very, very, very beautiful.”
This part of the show led to the heartwarming moment a young man proposed to his partner – who accepted the gesture with an adorable “I do.”
Stunning Stage Production
Simplisitic yet striking production set the perfect stage for Lizzo to captivate the Spark Arena audience.
At times, gold frames appeared around a main centre screen and the two either side, giving a sense audiences were viewing a live art show. Neon lighting could be seen around the screens, with similar colours echoed in cute artwork appearing behind her.
When it came time to perform “Rumors”, an ‘incoming call’ from Cardi B appeared on the big screen. Just as in Cardi’s feature, the call was picked up just as it came time for the rapper’s verse. Cardi was seen delivering her part of the track through the iPhone and it was a unique way to incorporate her into the show.
In another moment, a pre-recorded message from Missy Elliot played out, praising Lizzo for her artistry.
“Lizzo can do everything,” she said. Her Auckland fans likely agree after last night.