Yesterday saw the release of Ariana Grande’s first live album ‘k bye for now (swt live)’, which was of course the live recording or her roaring Sweetener World Tour.
Released moments after finishing the final and 100th show of the tour, the album was instantly available across streaming services for fans. From start to finish, the live album showcases Ariana’s incredible voice and impressive vocal range. The album also features recordings from different shows, including performances from her UK leg in London.
Attending the show in person at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena on 17th September, Ariana’s stage presence and set list was even more remarkable. Although for me the show was slightly bittersweet, as I had purchased a VIP meet & greet ticket at the time the tickets were released, which was unfortunately cancelled two weeks before the show. This still meant that I had pit tickets though, which was an experience in itself. After being present myself at the tragic events at Ariana’s Manchester Arena concert on 22nd May 2017, I was eager to enjoy the show and celebrate her incredible strength as an artist and human being.
As always with VIP tickets from Live Nation & Ticketmaster however, the ‘VIP’ factor leaves room to be improved. Keeping fans guessing as to where to queue for the VIP concierge and then being lined up outside in the cold for an hour, it didn’t feel like a VIP experience. However, upon entering the venue and taking my spot directly in front of the B stage, it was clear that the show itself was going to be amazing.
I certainly wasn’t proved wrong. From the subtle but touching tribute to her late boyfriend Mac Miller by playing his song ‘Dang!’ just before she took to the stage, to Ari belting out the first notes of her track ‘Raindrops’ before rising onto the stage with her dancers along a table, the whole crowd was awestruck.
The entire show was filled with hits and fan favourites from each of Ariana’s albums, most notably from her most recent albums ‘Sweetener’, which was released in August 2018 and ‘Thank U, Next’, which was released only six months later in February 2019. The stage was tactfully designed so that audience members from every corner of the venue had a great view of the show. With a stage that protruded in a circular shape around the standing area, holding the pit and B stage inside of it, Ariana and her team of dancers energetically lead the performance around the crowd. Wearing her signature platform high heels, perhaps the most impressive part of the whole show was Ariana’s effortless dancing without so much as stumbling in her shoes.
Halfway through the concert, Ariana made her first visit to the B stage. To say that I and the fans around me were ecstatic is an understatement! Singing, dancing and just generally being glorious right in front of me, Ariana’s warm personality and stage talent was utterly undeniable. Up close, it’s clear to see how much she enjoys what she does and the love she has for her fans. Although security had to intervene with an overly enthusiastic fan at one point as Ariana held her hand out to the crowd, she kept her poise and graciousness at all times while on the tiny second stage.
She’s a true professional and perfectionist as well as being very humble when it comes to her fans. Ariana has made no secret of the fact that this tour has been a labour of love whilst dealing with anxiety, but that sharing this experience with her fans has helped her to heal. I can only say that I’m honoured to have played a very small part in that while watching her glow on stage.
The set list featured a perfect collection of songs, including some of my favourites ‘God is a Woman’, ‘Into You’ and ‘No Tears Left to Cry’. For the finale, Ariana ended the show flawlessly with possibly her most commercially successful single ‘Thank U, Next’. Taking two final laps of the stage, Ariana used the sassy hit to thank her fans for coming and tell them that she loved them before exiting.
Following such an amazing show, my after concert blues were real. But, that’s how you know you’ve been to a truly great gig. Thank U, Ari.
Ariana’s live album, ‘k bye for bye (swt Live)’, is available on streaming services now.