About 40 minutes into her relentlessly paced show, Lizzo had barely taken a breath in between the singing, dancing, rapping and twerking. But she stopped to soak in the love that came from the other side of the stage at The Pageant Tuesday night during the sold-out St. Louis leg of her “Cuz I Love You Too” tour.
The moment wasn’t technically a standing ovation, because her fans never sat down to begin with. “Lizzo. Lizzo. Lizzo,” they shouted.
As she stood there beaming, a fan yelled out “I love you Lizzo!”
“I love you too,” Lizzo shouted back. Her response just so happened to be the title of her tour. She used that moment to explain her intention and the motivation behind her music.
“If you leave here tonight thinking, ‘I love her and I want to be just like her,’ then I didn’t do my job,” Lizzo said. “I want you to walk out of here thinking, ‘I love me some me.”
The self-love sermon she squeezed into her 75-minute set fell right in line with the messages in her music.
“If he don’t love you anymore, just walk your fine [expletive] out the door,” Lizzo sings in “Good As Hell.”
Leave it to Lizzo to turn a breakup experience into a self-affirming anthem.
The fans who packed the Pageant to capacity were hip to Lizzo long before a pair of awards show appearances thrust her into the mainstream. The show sold-out well ahead of the showstopping performance at the BET Awards that brought Rihanna to her feet began Lizzo’s momentum. Her MTV Awards medley catapulted the singer/rapper/flautist to become mainstream music’s newest “it” girl – and a champion of the body positivity movement.
Tuesday night’s show proved why she’s worthy of all the buzz that has come her way in recent months – and her power to change moods and minds through her music.
The next time Lizzo lands in St. Louis, it will almost certainly be an arena venue. Seemingly with that in mind, both she and the fans made the most of the opportunity to be up close and personal.
Rising R&B star Ari Lennox opened the show with a seductive set that included “Whip Cream,” “Backseat” and the title track from her latest album “Shea Butter Baby.” Back by a live band, the unapologetically soulful set didn’t fall within most of the audiences general listening taste, but she managed to capture their attention of the openminded music fans in the room with her smooth vocals and the undeniable groove her songs provided.
As the main event, Lizzo emerged onto a set that resembled the inside of a sanctuary. In a gold costume that looked like lingerie with matching combat boots and a black cape and, she made it clear from the very beginning that those viral award show performances were not a fluke.
Back by her squad of dancers with a range of different body types that she affectionally referred to as her “big girls,” Lizzo got down to business out of the gate with “Heaven Help Me.” Then she jumped right into “Worship.”
“I feel like fire, I feel like rain,” Lizzo sang as she danced in sync with her crew of dancers. “I can take you higher, but you gotta earn it.”
The diverse crowd that ran the gamut of demographics knew every word of the song – and all the others over the course of the night. She could have stopped singing altogether and let the audience take over at any given moment.
Catching the live show of an artist while they are riding the wave as a freshly minted phenomenon is a fascinating experience.
Lizzo was visibly overwhelmed by the energy from the crowd as they sang along to every word while she performed. She told the crowd that St. Louis is a special town for her. And then kept her promise to randomly work the “chicken head” – a popular dance spearheaded by the St. Lunatics in the early 2000s – into her act over the night.
“You do these shows every night and sometimes you get so tired – and sick,” Lizzo said, admitting she was under the weather for the performance – though no one would have known had she not said so.
“Y’all just truly healed me tonight,” Lizzo said before jumping right back into the show with “Gigolo Game/ Like A Girl.”
Other songs on her set list included “Scuse Me,” “Water Me,” “Boys,” and “Jerome” and “Tempo.”
“This is your opportunity to fall in love with yourself,” Lizzo told the crowd after she performed “Soulmate,” with lyrics that state “I’mma marry me one day.”
She closed the show with her current Billboard hits “Good As Hell and “Truth Hurts.” The latter of the two has stayed put at the top of the Billboard singles charts for the past several weeks – no small feat considering she secured the number one spot two years after the song’s original debut.
She pulled out her flute for a spell during her encore performance, just ahead of her “Juice” finale.
Fans exited the venue feeling good about themselves, feeling good about the black girl magic displayed by mainstream music’s newest star and just feeling good, period. Good as hell, perhaps.