The Voice

San Jose Makes Taylor Swift Blush As She Returns To The Stage

Jingle Ball and Poptopia Concerts Reviewed

Hannah Browne, Reporter

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Demi Lovato at Jingle Ball: Images by Hannah Browne

With an epic line-up never before seen in San Jose, radio stations, WiLD 94.9 and 99.7 Now! hosted two separate concerts, two days apart, bringing 18 top pop stars into town and rocking SAP Center for three-and-a-half hours each night to the delight of Bay Area fans.

The eighteen pop stars are pop stars – Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift just to name a few.

Performers that normally grace the stage for their own standalone concerts sang one after each other, with a rotating stage, at iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball on November 30 and at the newly named Poptopia Holiday concert on December 2. Fans knew how unique these events were going to be, with Poptopia selling out in 60 seconds.

WiLD 94.9 got Jingle Ball going with a quick set by L.A. boy band Why Don’t We, followed by Hailee Steinfeld, actress and singer of hit “Love Myself“ and “Starving.” One Direction alumnus Liam Payne was up next, proving that he is getting comfortable on stage away from his partners, as he sang through three of his hits including sexy “Strip that Down.”

A quick break in the concert passed before the stage spun around revealing Nick Jonas and his full band for an energized performance of hits, belting out “Chains” in the finish. His Jonas Brothers roots showed as he expertly entertained the crowd with the skill of a man that has given a few concerts in his 25 years.

Reminding everyone, “Tonight is about the music,” Jonas gave everyone permission to forget the homework, the job, the worries and join the crowd of 17,000 people in a united desire to sing along and have fun.

Bay area native G-Eazy surprised the crowd by joining Halsey at the end of her set, lighting up the stage with their real life chemistry as they sang newly released “Him and I.”

Seeing two One Direction alumni in the same concert was a new experience for their shrieking loyal fans as Niall Horan graced the stage for the second year in a row at this event.

Compared to last year when Horan only had one song to sing as a solo artist, Horan had a whole album backing up his setlist for Jingle Ball 2017 and he beautifully serenaded the crowd with his first solo song, “This Town,” as well as “Flicker,” “Too Much to Ask,” “On the Loose,” and his Billboard number one hit “Slow Hands.”

In stark contrast to Horan, who has mastered being solo, Camila Cabello appeared a little lost without her old group Fifth Harmony. Thanking the crowd for supporting her dream to go solo, she ran through a few new singles, leaning on old trademark Fifth Harmony dance moves. However, she finished strong with the catchy “Havana.”

A disheveled Charlie Puth emerged next, announcing that he just woke up from a nap, perhaps ribbing the concert promoters for his 10:15 p.m. start time. It’s hard not to like him, however, as he is a master at sing alongs, especially the weepy 2015 hit “See You Again.”

Jingle Ball saved the best for last, as a “Confident” Demi Lovato closed the show, singing fan favorites “Cool for the Summer,” “Sexy Dirty Love,” “Confident” and the finale “Sorry Not Sorry.” Ever powerful with her vocals and message, Demi’s star is shining and she continues to prove there is nothing holding her back.

Two days later, 99.7 Now!’s Poptopia shook up its line-up to the surprise of its sold out crowd, starting its star studded evening promptly at 7:30 p.m. with a ginger haired man standing alone on the stage with a small guitar.

Screaming with glee, the crowd welcomed Grammy award winner Ed Sheeran as he sang his hit, “Castle on the Hill,” then rolled into another hit, “Thinking Out Loud.”

Worried that Sheeran was not going to show after breaking his two arms in a bike accident, the crowd was pleased that he not only was there but also seemed to be fully healed as he wildly played the guitar in the intense “Bloodstream” with the music looping back on itself in his trademark playback technique.

Sheeran acknowledged the amazing slate of performers for the evening and asked everyone to lose their voices along with him since he was going home on Sunday. The crowd obeyed as they sang along to “Perfect” and “Shape of You.”

English pop singer Dua Lipa enticed the crowd with her sultry voice and a few of her hits including “New Rules” before Logic rapped his recently Grammy nominated hit titled “1-800-273-8255” which is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Preaching a message of peace, love and positivity, Logic reminded the crowd that it’s ok not to be ok, and to have hope.

Fresh off his performance at WiLD 94.9’s Jingle Ball, Niall Horan returned to the stage at SAP Center for the second time in three days, with a slightly different set. He looked and felt even more comfortable than his first performance, singing new hit “Seeing Blind,” which shows the Irish songwriter has a bit of country music in him.

Newcomer Khalid continues to surprise the industry with his maturity at the young age of nineteen, treating the crowd to several singles from his hit album, American Teen, including “Location,” “Young Dumb and Broke,” and “8Teen.” Singing with an eighties vibe about romantic ups and downs, and life as an American teen resonated with the younger audience.

Next up was EDM-pop group The Chainsmokers. Their energy intoxicated the crowd as frontman Andrew Taggart jumped around on stage reminding the crowd why three of their songs are in the top 10 most streamed danced songs of 2017 – “Closer,” “Something Just Like This,” and “Paris.”

Equally as lost as solo Camila Cabello at Jingle Ball two evenings earlier, Fifth Harmony was disorganized without Cabello in the middle. Their performance was also not memorable with the exception of a live, non-lip-synched rendition of Christmas song “Sleigh Ride.”

Fifth Harmony’s folly on stage was quickly forgotten as the most anticipated event of the evening unfolded with Taylor Swift’s return to the stage after a ten-month hiatus. She brought her signature sass and a selection of songs from her new album, Reputation, to only two locations this year. San Jose was lucky to have her and they let her know it, with Swift acknowledging, “San Jose, you are making me blush!”

In black velvet shorts and a shimmering Christmas plaid hoodie, Swift made the crowd “Ready for It” and delivered a performance that had everyone wishing for more. Old favorites “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off” were included in the set as well as a beautiful acoustic performance of the 50 Shades of Grey theme song, “I Don’t Want to Live Forever.”

It was not that long ago when a little known Ed Sheeran was the opening act for Taylor Swift’s 2013 Red tour. Fans have not forgotten that bit of music history and neither has Taylor Swift, who dragged Sheeran on stage to sing their recent collaboration “End Game.” The performance sent fans into a frenzy.

Closing the show with her vengeful anthem, “Look What You Made Me Do,” reversed the concert vibe back to the ‘new’ Swift that has fans buying tickets for Swift’s next visit to the Bay Area on May 12 when she plays Levi’s Stadium.

 

 

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San Jose Makes Taylor Swift Blush As She Returns To The Stage