DEMI LOVATO, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 26 June 2018

Demi Lovato postponed this concert on June 10 with injured vocal cords, at such late notice that many fans had already set off to the venue. The LA singer and former child actress had better timing as she returned. This week she hit the UK number one spot as the voice of the latest Clean Bandit single, Solo.

The lightweight tropical pop of that song, and especially the overwrought chorus of Heart Attack, showed that her showy voice was in fine form on her return. Not as many were there to hear it as could have been, with much of the top tier curtained off. Despite her chart success across six albums, she’s not quite big enough for our biggest venue.

Lovato has carved a niche as the pop star who wears her problems on her sleeve. Drug abuse, bulimia, bipolar disorder and long spells in rehab have all been part of her story since she found fame as a Disney Channel teenager. When she said, “I wouldn’t be alive today without my fans,” it didn’t sound like an exaggeration.

Her openness allowed her to avoid glossy perfectionism and present something edgier. Her eight-strong dance troupe simulated sex in all gender permutations during Cool for the Summer, and she littered the torch song Lonely with F-words.

London has been spoiled with huge pop shows lately, and next to the extravaganzas of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Shakira, Lovato’s bare stage and low-key props (a bed, a therapist’s couch) looked cheap. However, she caused jaws to drop in a different way with the piano ballad Sober, a brand new song that saw her admitting, ““Mama, I’m so sorry, I’m not sober any more. Pop’s most honest star seems to have peeled back another layer. It made her performance a riveting but worrying experience.

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