A 25-foot slide disguised as a tongue coming out of a three-story tall face. A humongous hot dog with a saddle so you could ride on it. Furry animals in shades of pink, purple and tourqoise.
Pop star Miley Cyrus has put together her own traveling Disneyland for college girls gone wild. But the colorful, kaleidoscopic, nearly two-hour theme-park pop show that she brought to sold-out Xcel Energy Center on Monday was not nearly as racy as her reputation.
The 21-year-old princess of the provocative did not twerk, the act on the MTV Video Music Awards last summer that elevated her from a passe Disney darling (remember Hannah Montana?) into a household name. To be sure, she pushed buttons Monday. There was a litany of f-bombs, a little crotch rubbing, a super-King-sized bed scene with five guys and three women, and an outfit depicting marijuana leaves.
But, in short, it was more shock and eeh. The prevailing vibe: Let's have fun.
Miley is just following the lead of her godmother, Dolly Parton. If backwoods-raised Dolly became a garish visual caricature of a tart, then Miley has become a modern-day, Hollywood-raised version of a vamp. She spouts off about female empowerment and freedom and the like, but, in concert, she's mostly about mindless fun. She's acting like a college-age girl who just wants to party — except she has a bigger budget.
The 14,000 fans came to party, even the younger ones hooked on Hannah Montana who missed the parental advisory signs on the giant screen during the concert. The crowd was predominantly women (about 95 percent), mostly in their teens and 20s.
Even if she was the life of the party, Miley's pacing was awkward (she left all three of her big hits for the encore), and her catalog of songs is not nearly as deep as her trunk of tricks — all the tunes but two were taken from last year's "Bangerz" album. But she does know how to entertain.
She surrounded herself with dancers, either athletic or odd, including a 6-foot-7 woman and a 4-foot woman whose face resembles Katy Perry's. She dressed her cast in eye-catching outfits (including a huge puppet as rapper, two women as the four heads of Mount Rushmore and those furry animals). And, of course, she wore about a dozen different outfits herself — and not all of them were scanty. At one point, she donned a shimmering, sequined catwoman suit straight out of Cher's closet. Prrrrr.
Miley also used imaginative set pieces, including a kiss-camera focused on fans during "Adore You" and a parade of American icons (Abe Lincoln, Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty) during the confetti- and firework-filled "Party in the U.S.A." And, of course, she entered by cruising down that tongue slide (coming out of a giant depiction of her own face) and exited by riding atop that huge hot dog, wearing a mustard-colored fur jacket.
More than anything, Miley proved that she can sing. Eschewing the lip-syncing and fancy dancing evidenced at concerts by Madonna and Beyoncé, Miley unleashed her vocal power on such ballads as "Wrecking Ball" and "We Can't Stop." She demonstrated her ability to croon, especially with country-like instincts, on Parton's "Jolene" and a reworking of OutKast's "Hey Ya" during a semi-acoustic set on a satellite stage. Her lower register sounded perfectly downbeat on Lana Del Ray's "Summertime Sadness."
Miley may have chutzpah, but her show wasn't as daring and awe-inducing as Pink's. In concert, she doesn't have the ambition and theatricality of Taylor Swift, the depth of Beyoncé or the compelling story line of Madonna. But Miley took her fans to her own personal, wild and crazy Disneyland — even if Hannah Montana didn't show up.
set list: www.startribune.com/artcetera