Review: Who was louder in St. Paul: Olivia Rodrigo or her overexuberant fans? (2024)

The girl behind me — she in her brand-new Olivia Rodrigo T-shirt — sang along at the top of her lungs to Every. Single. Song on Friday night at Rodrigo's instantly sold-out concert at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The 9-year-old with the pigtails and gap-tooth smile modulated when Rodrigo's song called for it, belted out the lyrics (obscenities and all) while thrusting her fist in the air, and sang face-to-face with her equally enthusiastic aunt as if it were the greatest day of her life.

She wasn't the only one. It was the most singing-alongest crowd maybe ever at an arena concert. There were times when the 16,000 vociferous, animated fans — mostly girls and women from ages 5 to 25 with moms, girl dads and a few boyfriends — were remarkably louder than the singer they paid handsomely to see.

And when Rodrigo asked them to all scream at the end of "All-American Bitch" — well, Beatlemaniacs never had anything on the Livies.

Thirteen concerts into her first arena tour, Rodrigo, who turned 21 in February, came across as the new rock star that America didn't know it needed. She snarled, stomped, strutted, pogoed and then sat down at the piano for exquisitely crafted theatrical ballads.

She made concessions to megastardom by bringing along eight dancers for a few selections and soaring over the crowd on a crescent moon, a deftly executed move right out of the Arena Pop Star Playbook.

In a show that was decidedly un-showbizzy, Rodrigo used some creative camera angles for her giant video screen — from beneath a clear stage for one selection, and overhead shots for two other numbers as she performed on her back. Those were more a change of pace than wow moments.

Rodrigo's Guts World Tour is a big step up from her no-frills Twin Cities debut in 2022 at the Armory in Minneapolis, which was only her seventh concert ever. Now with two smash albums, three Grammys and countless critical hosannas, Rodrigo is putting on the kind of highly emotional, consistently spirited and thoroughly exciting rock-and-pop show that will set a high standard for that 9-year-old and others attending their first-ever arena concert.

Like 22-year-old Billie Eilish, the Disney-trained Rodrigo is blessed with preternatural confidence, manifesting a natural emotional and physical reaction to her music. With Eilish, it's an electrifying exuberance; with Rodrigo, it's more of a rock 'n' roll swagger.

She rocked hard on the opening "Bad Idea Right," the stomping "Brutal," the ranting "Jealousy, Jealousy," and the pile-driving chorus of "Obsessed" (a bonus track on the vinyl version of last year's "Guts").

But she didn't just do bangers. There were plenty of irresistible bops like "Love Is Embarrassing" and dramatic ballads like her No. 1 hits "Vampire" (bathed in red lights) and "Drivers License" (with creeping stage fog).

And she can deliver a ballad with a heartfelt combination of vulnerability and strength like she did on "The Grudge." Despite spending half the night purging herself of painful memories of clueless parents and inconsiderate exes, Rodrigo performed with joyful animation, often shifting her glitter-lidded eyes for exaggerated effect.

On her first arena tour, Rodrigo seemed friendly but not overly talkative. She mentioned attending a Minnesota Wild game the night before and spoke a couple of times about songwriting, including how she came up with an idea for some lyrics while filming a TV show and suddenly excused herself to go to the restroom, where she made a voice memo for what became the song "Happier."

On Friday, Rodrigo offered every selection from "Guts," almost every song from her debut "Sour," and the minor-key "Can't Catch Me Now" from the soundtrack to "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes."

And unlike last time around, there were no covers (unless you count singing "Happy Birthday" to her keyboardist). She has enough original material to fill 100 minutes.

Without making mention of it, Rodrigo stands up for sisterhood, whether it's hiring all female, nonbinary or trans people for her band and dance troupe and by welcoming representatives of reproductive agencies to have information tables in the arena lobby.

Like Taylor Swift and Britney Spears before her, it's clear that Rodrigo is becoming the kind of bright young star that her young fans can grow up with, for better or worse, during a long career. That's the kind of rock star we need now.

Review: Who was louder in St. Paul: Olivia Rodrigo or her overexuberant fans? (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Virgilio Hermann JD

Last Updated:

Views: 6289

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Virgilio Hermann JD

Birthday: 1997-12-21

Address: 6946 Schoen Cove, Sipesshire, MO 55944

Phone: +3763365785260

Job: Accounting Engineer

Hobby: Web surfing, Rafting, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Ghost hunting, Swimming, Amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Virgilio Hermann JD, I am a fine, gifted, beautiful, encouraging, kind, talented, zealous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.