The Weeknd, J. Lo, Prince Royce, Trey Songz, Nick Jonas, Diplo Highlight Night 2 Of iHeartRadio Music Festival
September 20, 2015 at 12:09 AM (PT)
KANYE WEST set the bar pretty high last night, as did KENNY CHESNEY, DEMI LOVATO, DURAN DURAN, SAM SMITH/ DISCLOSURE, DAVID GUETTA and hometown rockers THE KILLERS, among others, at last night's spectacular iHEARTRADIO MUSIC FESTIVAL at LAS VEGAS' MGM GRAND GARDEN ARENA, but tonight's lineup promises some fireworks as well.
The Artist Formerly Known as TORONTO native ABEL TESFAYE, aka THE WEEKND, fresh from a sold-out performance at DRAIS BEACHCLUB NIGHTCLUB the night before, took the opening slot and ran with it in a well-received five-song set from his chart-topping XO/REPUBLIC RECORDS album, "Beauty Behind The Madness." Starting with "Losers," the album's second track, things began to heat up with the salacious, rhythmic come-on of "Often," the aural sex equivalent of "50 Shades Of Grey" in the falsetto-laden ballad "Earned It" and perhaps the hottest song in the country right now, "Can't Feel My Face," which effortlessly evokes the MICHAEL JACKSON of "Off The Wall." Getting the audience involved, he finished with "The Hills," with its tagline, "When I'm fucked up, that's the real me." There was nothing fucked-up about this performance, just another in a relentless victory march for 2015's top artist to date.
JENNIFER LOPEZ brought a little bit of old-fashioned show business pizzazz to a four-song set that served as a preview for her upcoming LAS VEGAS "All I Have" residency. Resplendent in a one-piece white bathing suit, her hair in cornrows and tight to her scalp except for a single pigtail, J. LO started off with "Booty," then admitted she hadn't performed music on-stage for a while. "I'm about to get loose on y'all," she offered breathlessly before bringing on SPANISH singer songwriter ALVARO SOLER, who accompanies her on thenew "El Mismo Sol," a nod to her LATINO past complete with a TEX-MEX accordion and an all-inclusive refrain, "We are one under the sun." A feverish "On The Floor" segues into "Jenny From The Block," which ends with an extended choreographed segment with her dancers and a shout-out to THE BRONX.
Hatless heartthrob BLAKE SHELTON might be better known as a coach on THE VOICE, but it was up to him to uphold his genre as the only country artist on tonight's bill, and he delivered a suitably engaging five-song set, starting with "Neon Light," a song which could easily be interpreted as his trying to move on after the recent split from MIRANDA LAMBERT. SHELTON has a friendly, ingratiating presence, which he shows off on the charming come-on "Honey Bee," a new "drinking song" named "Sangria," then finishing up with "Gonna" and the ode to cracking out a cold beer, "Boys 'Round Here."
If there was one artist who used their iHEARTRADIO MUSIC FESTIVAL performance to introduce themselves to a brand-new audience, it was PRINCE ROYCE, looking to make his own ENGLISH language crossover move on his new SONY LATIN/RCA RECORDS album, "Double Vision." If this six-song set was an indication, the BRONX-born entertainer is well on his way. Stgarting with "Stuck On A Feeling," he hit his stride with "Double Vision," joined by TYGA for the song's propulsive hook, a combination of honking STEVIE WONDER harp and mournful AUGUSTUS PABLO melodica. He slowed it up a bit for "Handcuffs," but the real show-stopper was "Lucky One," which lived up to its name when ROYCE plucked one lady from the audience and sang it to her, complete with proferred rose and an embrace. "Quiero Dar Te Un Beso" ("I Want To Give You A Kiss") gave a nod to his roots before the infectious dance-hall reggae beat of the new single, "Back It Up" brought things to an upbeat conclusion.
The unannounced BIG SEAN, fresh from an appearance at the DAYTIME VILLAGE, took the stage for a single song, "I Don't Fuck With You," then gave way to another earlier VILLAGE performer, IRISH singer/songwriter HOZIER, who proved he's more than just his worldwide hit, "Take Me To Church," with a five-sog set that stressed his spiritual/musical connection to fellow son of the EIRE VAN MORRISON. "Jackie And Wilson" proved an unmistakeable nod to VAN's "JACKIE WILSON Said," while "The Angel Of Small Death And The Codeine Scene" and "Work Song" both share MORRISON's gospel roots. "Someone Now" is the missing link between "Sweet Jane" and "Into the Mystic," and by the time he got to his closer, his connection to the titular "Church" was made more explicit than ever.
VIRGINIA-born TREY SONGZ ne TREMANE ALDON NEVERSON, more than earned his ladies' man status -- or as one of the hosts put it, "Mr. Steal Your Girl" -- with a strong set that started with snippets of "Touchin Lovin," "2 Reasons" and "Say Aah," then segued into a sexy "Slow Motion," a come-hither "About You" (with its "You're so vain you probably think this song is about you" refrain), the surging rhythms of "Na Na" and, by now shirtless, the nod to drinking, "Bottoms Up."
A one-time iHEARTRADIO "ON THE VERGE' pick for future stardom, the real question to ask: Is SWEDISH singer/songwriter TOVE LO -- another DAYTIME VILLAGE performer -- the next left-field pop crossover queen in the subtly subversive, left-field style of LORDE? Given her performance tonight, the lissome, tattooed, nose-ringed beauty seems to have the goods, roaming the stage barefoot while delivering hook-laden potential radio anthems like "Not On Drugs," "Moments," "Talking Body" and the actual hit, "Habits," with its great verse: "I get home, I got the munchies/Binge on all my Twinkies/Throw up in the tub/Then I go to sleep." Along with PRINCE ROYCE, to this point, TOVE LO was the revelation of the evening
Like LIL WAYNE last night, this was the first stage performance by PUFF DADDY since he was DIDDY, and it turned into an emotional tribute to his former charge, the slain hip-hop icon NOTORIOUS B.I.G., opening with "Victory," and closing with the POLICE-sampled "I'll Be Missing You." While making a veiled comment about KANYE's performance the night before ("We like to have some fun on stage with dancers, not just stand in front of some lights"), PUFFY's jam-packed set included BAD BOY classics like "Been Around The World," "Bad Boys For Life," "I Need A Girl" and "Mo Money Mo Problems" while bringing on BUSTA RHYMES for "Pass The Courvoisier," MACHINE GUN KELLY for "A Little More," then LIL' KIM for a spirited "It;s All About The Benjamins" and finally, TORI KELLY, for a dynamic "Coming Home." Introducing his new single, "Finna Get Loose," featuring PHARRELL (who accompanied on video screen), SEAN COMBS made it clear we're going to see -- and hear -- a lot more from PUFF DADDY.
Is NICK JONAS the next JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE? He certainly made a case for it with tonight's performance, starting off with "Chains," looking resplendent in a shiny black leather jacket, surrounded by ladies gyrating on what looked like monkey bars as he leaned into "Numb," the funky "Levels," the MICHAEL JACKSON-like falsetto of "Teacher" and, finally, after strapping on a guitar, the hit single "Jealous," Give the kid credit. He's seemed to have found the sweet spot right between teen idol and rock star.
FALL OUT BOY brought the rock energy for a spirited set that ran the gamut from the catchy "Sugar We're Going Down" and "Irresistible" to the unlikely hit, "Uma Thurman," with its nod to "The Munsters" TV theme, ending with "Centuries," "Thanks For the Memories" and a burst of "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up)." The mere fact that they were present in this group of Top 40 mainstays was testament enough to this underrated band's continuing relevance. Give credit to soulful vocalist PATRICK STUMPF and savvy bassist/leader PETE WENTZ for keeping them that way.
Then it was time for DIPLO to raise the temperature in the room, which he did, with a weekend-ending mix set that had the audience luxuriating in the insinuating electronic beat of "Be Right There," "Where Are U Now," his collaboration with SKRILLEX and JUSTIN BIEBER, and MAJOR LAZER's chart-topping "Lean On," speeding up and slowing things down, molding the sound like a piece of taffy. It's a fitting tribute to the DJ, the power of spinning, programming music and, ultimately the medium of radio itself, serving as the perfect coda for this year's iHEARTRADIO MUSIC FESTIVAL