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Review: Lizzo dazzles, empowers Tampa fans in sold-out Yuengling Center concert

The breakout pop star of 2019 held a summit of self-worth and smash singles, and more than 7,000 fans left inspired.
Lizzo performs at the Yuengling Center on Tuesday in Tampa. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Published Sep. 11
Updated Sep. 11

You could jump-start a rocket with the positive energy Lizzo sent sparking through Tampa on Tuesday night. A rocket straight to Venus with you as the captain and your squad as the crew, zooming anywhere you want to zoom in a ship of rainbow gold.

“At the end of the day, I can look cute and I can sing and dance on stage all day, but if it’s not making a positive impact on the world, I don’t want it. I won’t do it,” the 31-year-old singer and rapper told an electric crowd of more than 7,000 at the Yuengling Center. “So I want you to take this show home with you."

She pointed straight between the breasts in her gleaming gold bustier, saying that’s where she wanted fans to stash her songs, "because that’s where love lives. That’s where your self-love lives.”

For the majority-female crowd, Lizzo’s words landed like gospel from on high. It was as if they’d all bought tickets for a pop show but wound up in a self-empowerment seminar — only no one complained, because at a Lizzo concert, they’re basically one and the same.

It’s been a hot couple of weeks for the Houston-via-Minnesota native born Melissa Jefferson. Stealing the VMAs, scoring her first No. 1 single in Truth Hurts, landing the cover of Elle, getting shout-outs from Hillary Clinton and Beyonce and Cookie Monster — she might be the artist of this very specific moment in time. Which explains why her concert, originally announced for St. Petersburg’s cozier Jannus Live, got moved to the giant Yuengling Center almost immediately, and by showtime sold every ticket it could print.

Lizzo performs at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]

RELATED: In praise of Lizzo, coming to Tampa as 2019′s boldest breakout star

The supercharged atmosphere was not lost on Lizzo, who by night’s end seemed overwhelmed by “my first-ever sold-out arena show," but grateful nonetheless.

“I worked so hard, and life goes by so quickly. I told myself tonight I would just soak this up because I will never, ever get this back,” she said. “I will never get this feeling back. You really did that, girl!”

She did it, all right.

Lizzo performs at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]

Radiating a level of confidence somewhere between Kawhi Leonard and Leonidas of Sparta, Lizzo busted out from backstage like James Brown, emerging into her golden pulpit, wailing Heaven Help Me and Worship like a gospel queen, hand to her chest, jiggling her hips, weaving in a bit of Aretha Franklin’s Respect to kindle up the crowd. She danced and twerked, crouched and hopped, batting her eyes and commanding the crowd to sing along as her choir. From the first row to the last, they obliged.

She hunched over and screamed lyrical soup for the soul, begging “my big bitches” and “my gay boys in Tampa” to believe in the person they saw in the mirror, to embrace that face and body on Exactly How I Feel, 'Scuse Me and Water Me. Even when whiffs of Rocky Horror/Hairspray camp permeated the air — in a good, knowingly theatrical way — Lizzo did not stray far off message, reminding fans that “there is a strength in vulnerability” and "you are incredible, you are a goddess.”

“I want you to aspire to be the person the world looks up to,” she said before Good as Hell, a song so lavish and confident it practically demands a Sex and the City reboot, just so it can surface on the soundtrack. “All that self-worth, it really does pay off.”

Lizzo performs at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]

RELATED: Lizzo stops by Tampa bakery to sample signature ‘Freak Shake’ milkshake before concert

Ballads don’t happen at a Lizzo show, unless you count the more vulnerable Lingerie, which saw her slumped across the stage in a sheer robe. As such, her powerhouse voice mostly stuck to just a couple of modes — the Most and Really the Most — which shows that even for a singer with the No. 1 song in the country, there’s still room for her to grow as a vocalist. So it goes with artists who feel like they come out of nowhere (even when they really didn’t).

About that No. 1 song, Truth Hurts: It’s a rare but delightful treat when America’s most popular song comes to your town in the middle of its reign, especially one as quotable as Lizzo’s. Turns out, Tampa was 100 percent ready to chant the whole thing right back to Lizzo’s face, so much so that they drowned out an entire flute solo in the middle.

After more than an hour of “putting our blood, sweat, tears and p---y juice on the stage" (ma’am!), Lizzo brought her flute back out for one more twerk of her tail feathers on Juice, one of 2019′s most infectious singles. But not before one last affirmation for the road.

“I never thought I would be able to do this,” she said. “So I want you to look at me, and I want you to see that in yourself. I want you to see somebody in yourself who can achieve the unachievable, and dream up the impossible, and make the impossible possible. Be your own superstar in your story of self-love."

After the summit of self-worth Lizzo put on, good luck telling folks they can’t.

Lizzo performs at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Lizzo performs at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Fans cheer as Lizzo performs at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Ari Lennox opens for Lizzo at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Ari Lennox opens for Lizzo at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]


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