The singer took to stage at the O2 Arena for her first live performance since suffering an allergic reaction to antibiotics, which forced her to cancel a handful of dates in the US and Europe.
The night started with a support slot from hipster popstar Sky Ferreira, who also joined Cyrus on the US leg of the tour. Ferreira, who was wearing dark glasses and a rock-chick jacket, played a tight set of hooky grunge-pop including blog hit Everything Is Embarrassing and current single I Blame Myself.
Following a short interval, the house lights came down and a screen appeared showing a huge computer-animated picture of Cyrus’s face. In an obvious nod to her now infamous performance at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, the mouth of the face opened and a tongue-shaped slide appeared – which Cyrus promptly slid down, with glee.
She then launched into a performance of album track SMS (Bangerz) complete with a dancer wearing a Britney Spears mask – a nod to the A-list guest who appears on the recorded version of the song.
During 4×4 Cyrus was flanked by a troupe of giant multicoloured furry animals as she sang that she was, ahem, “driving so fast [I’m] ‘bout to piss on myself”. After calling the audience “a bunch of f*cking sl*ts” and leaving the stage for a costume change, she reappeared wearing a sparkly leotard decorated with marijuana leaves – and writhed around on a gold Hummer while rubbing herself with dollar bills.
Cyrus, however, was not the hot mess she’s often portrayed as. She knew how to control the audience and the stage, and when she suffered a “wardrobe malfunction”, she took it in her stride, deadpanning: “I look better with less clothes on anyway. You should see me naked.”
This one-liner was typical of a show that was crass, vulgar and completely enthralling. Whether thrusting her intimate bits at the audience, spanking her backing dancers or spitting water at the crowd shouting, “I want to make you wet”, Cyrus was on a mission to be provocative.
There were tender moments too, though. During her performance of Adore You, a “kiss-cam” was sent into the audience, with Cyrus calling for boys to kiss boys and girls to kiss girls. When the song was finished, she told the crowd: “I don’t usually do this, but it was two boys kissing who started this off tonight. It’s really brave.”
It’s also worth noting that Miley Cyrus is a more gifted singer than many of her Disney star contemporaries. During the show’s acoustic portion, she performed covers of songs by Arctic Monkeys, Lana Del Rey and Bob Dylan – though the latter, perhaps, wasn’t fully appreciated by her mostly teenage audience. However, in true Cyrus style, she brought the crowd back on side with a filthy rendition of her godmother Dolly Parton’s hit Jolene, in which she branded the titular redhead a “c*nt”. Only Miley.
The most ridiculous moment of the show came during her performance of Someone Else, when Cyrus rode a giant hotdog into the audience, making the inevitable “wiener” jokes in the process.
She then capped off the night with an encore featuring her two UK Number One singles, We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball, before returning for a second encore of Party In The U.S.A., in which she wore a sparkly Union Jack leotard that would put Geri Halliwell to shame.
It was a suitably tacky ending to a fantastically tacky, deliciously filthy and totally entertaining arena pop show.
The setlist was as follows:
Love, Money, Party
Maybe You’re Right
Do My Thang
Can’t Be Tamed
Rooting For My Baby
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High (Arctic Monkeys cover)
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Bob Dylan cover)
Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey cover)
Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)
On My Own
We Can’t Stop
Party In The U.S.A.