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By Jake Brown

In her brief four-year career, Ariana Grande has released three albums, all of which have gone platinum. She shows no signs of slowing down, and that was certainly true on Thursday night (February 23) she brought her “Dangerous Woman Tour” to New York City for the first of two nights at Madison Square Garden.

At shortly after 9 pm, Grande appeared from under the stage along with her dancers, much to the delight of the thousands of screaming girls and scattered men at a sold out MSG. Her act started on a white stage with mostly male backup dancers. For much of the night, the stage set was simple and elegant; sometimes purple, sometimes gray, sometimes Grande was shrouded in darkness. There were arena moments, such as the smoke and fire for her “Dangerous Woman” encore, Grande riding a stationary bike for “Side to Side,” pink balloons dropping from the ceiling for “Sometimes,” and fake money appearing over the crowd for “Greedy.”

Ariana Grande by Maria Ives
Ariana Grande (Maria Ives for

From start to finish, Grande had the crowd on their feet. She performed
all eleven songs from her 2016 hit album, Dangerous Woman, and was clearly comfortable playing to the huge crowd throughout the night, never missing a beat, while displaying an impressive array of dance moves.

It’s also worth noting that the performance was family-friendly. It wasn’t as overtly sexual as is often the case from Grande’s peers. Throughout the night, she stopped to show her love for her fans and telling everyone to “love each other” and “be yourself.” The rapport between her and her “Arianators” was in full effect.

Ariana Grande (Maria Ives for
Ariana Grande (Maria Ives for

However, she threw the crowd off by performing the remixes to her hits “Break Free” and “Problem.” That seemed unnecessary, as the original versions were massive hits and still are pretty fresh. The Garden was ready to erupt for “Problem,” but fans seemed a little confused with an unfamiliar version of the song.

Ariana Grande (Maria Ives for
Ariana Grande (Maria Ives for

She would also be well advised to bring “The Way”—her first big hit—back into her set. Her discography has grown a lot since then, and she has a lot of hits, but not so many that she should drop the song that put her on the map. Still, the 22-song setlist had more to like than to complain about, and as her career goes on, she’ll surely have to drop even more old favorites to make room for her new hits.

Little Mix (Maria Ives for
Little Mix (Maria Ives for

Little Mix came on before Grande and—true confession—I had never heard of them before. But the four beautiful Brits lit up the stage before Grande began, setting the tone for the rest of the night. They had an abundance of energy and upbeat songs that got the crowd buzzing before the main attraction. As I learned from one tweet I sent out, they have quite the fan base as well. Within minutes, fans were retweeting, liking, and not understanding how I had never heard of them.

Catch Jake Brown on “The Jake Brown Show” podcast on Play.It, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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