Having pulled eight recent concerts after an allergic reaction to antibiotics put her in hospital, Miley Cyrus was back to full twerk power at her first London arena show since 2009. The singer behind Can’t be Tamed grabbed her crotch, waggled her arse to infinity and wore outfits that could only have been more revealing if they incorporated X-rays and diary entries. She groped a dwarf, fondled a giantess and, to all intents and purposes, had sex with a car.
This former Disney star used more F-words than pages 62-74 of the dictionary and surrounded herself with puppets, eye-popping cartoons and a collossal, glowing-eyed dog like a kids’ show gone very bad indeed. Between songs she ranted and rambled with barely a pause for breath, advocating the importance of “being yourself” and, less appealingly for the parents in the audience, going on at considerable length about the health benefits of smoking marijuana.
“You know weed never killed anyone, right?” she said, before a cover of Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? By Arctic Monkeys. In an attempt to explain her absence from the stage last month, she criticised the doctor who gave her antibiotics which caused a reaction after an infection, but reserved praise for alternative vitamin supplements and “this lavender shit”.
Her energy was certainly back at peak level. Since whizzing up pop’s pecking order when she ground herself against Robin Thicke at the VMA Awards last autumn, Cyrus has been criticised for playing to male sexual fantasies, most notably in an open letter from Sinead O’Connor. Yet the character the 21-year-old portrayed on stage here did anything but. She was a grotesque, sliding down a giant tongue extending from her own elongated face to arrive on stage, spitting water on her fans and their two-little-bread-rolls hair tributes. She revelled in the gross, crass America of hardcore porn and eating contests as she sailed over our heads astride a giant hotdog.
She was an impressive singer on the rare occasions when her voice was allowed to rise above the gaudy distractions. Acoustic covers of Bob Dylan and her godmother, Dolly Parton, gave a glimpse of the sweet Nashville girl behind the monster. Wrecking Ball benefited from its minimal presentation, alone and powerful.
Other songs such as Love Money Party and FU were slogans in search of a tune. Playing barely anything beyond her Bangerz album, this bad girl needs more winnerz for the inevitable moment when her shock value fades.