Miley Cyrus' metamorphosis from Disney teen queen to the all-singing, all-twerking NSFW pop superstar she has become was in full effect last night at The O2. The 21-year-old traversed the boundaries of decency throughout the near two hour performance to the squeal-filled delight of the predominantly teenage audience and the bemusement of the occasionally parental chaperones who presumably didn't quite know what they were getting themselves into. And you know what? Save for the inevitable cries of "it wasn't like this in my day" from the Daily Mail subscription owners in attendance (you lot completely missed the point), the show was pretty damn entertaining.
Miley Cyrus is arguably the most polarising figure in mainstream music nowadays and she clearly revels in this role as the chief provocateur of our youth. Every single element of the stage show - from her entrance down a giant slide modelled on her on extended tongue, to her legs-akimbo gyrations on a golden car - were extensions of the personality she has carefully cultivated to both establish her own unique identity and distance herself from the squeaky-ish clean image of her past.
It was fitting that the show was in the heart of Dublin's docklands too, as the language out of Miley was sufficiently sailor-like in nature. The audience, referred to as "mother**kers" throughout, were encouraged by Miley - who was in full ringmaster mode - to be "sluts" and those who were deemed suitable were treated to a spray of water from the singer's mouth in what was probably the most punk rock moment The O2 has been witness to in many a moon. What was so impressive about Cyrus' performance was the sheer comfort she had on stage and the oneness she so obviously felt with her fans. She's not a corrupting influence, it was more she was one of them and at no point did she comes across insincere or over-rehearsed. Indeed, launching into the penultimate song 'Wrecking Ball' Cyrus bemoaned that she was about to sing it for the "thousandth f**king time" showing an honesty which has been carefully ironed out of her more PG friendly chart-topping peers.
The show was not without its flaws, though. The show's visuals were for the most part massively impressive, so much so that they actually served to take your mind away from the music. A 60 foot reincarnation of her recently deceased dog Floyd (seriously) was so overwhelming for its time on stage that it overshadowed the music and a cover of The Smiths' 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' was largely met with deaf ears from a crowd who'd never heard of Morrissey. A rip-roaring version of her Godmother Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' in which the title character was referred to as a "stupid slut" nearly tore the roof off the place, however.
Truth be told I'm not really Miley Cyrus' target audience as I'm far too old and far too bearded to qualify, but I can't begrudge her for this show which is fairly accurate representation of her persona, her music and her sexuality. There'll always be naysayers - there always is when any new form of controversial music gains popularity - but Miley Cyrus' style of music and particularly her personality has a lot more merit to it than the majority of the pristine pop which floods the airwaves.
Hannah Montana is truly dead. Long live Queen Miley.
Review by John Balfe