Review: Selena Gomez fails to deliver sizzle at Palace concert

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Selena Gomez brought her Revival Tour to the Palace of Auburn Hills Friday night, but it was more of the same from the pop singer rather than a revival.

Gomez is touring behind her latest album “Revival,” her most grown-up effort yet, but her performance chops and stage presence haven’t matured much since her last visit to the Palace in November 2013. The 23-year-old has been putting out albums since 2009 – “Revival” is her fifth album – but she still seems like she’s in training for the role of pop star, or that she’s studying for an upcoming acting role.

She certainly looked the part: immaculate clothing, perfectly tassled hair, Beyoncé-grade wind machines giving her that freshly blown look. But a connection was lacking, and the 18-song, 70-minute show was a low-wattage affair.

For a Friday night concert by a star with 86 million Instagram followers, the show was under-attended. At least seven sections in the upper level were curtained off, and there were patchy spots elsewhere in the upper level.

Gomez hit the stage around 9:25 p.m., dancing behind a curtain for “Revival,” which would also close the show.

The album features Gomez’s most flirtatious work to date, with songs like “Hands to Myself” and “Good For You” resting squarely in PG-13 territory, but her show was still a PG-rated affair. That was fine for the mostly teenage girls in attendance, and there would be no awkward conversations with their parents on the way home over the content of the show.

Gomez was joined on stage by a team of nine dancers and backed by a four-piece band with two backup singers. Light choreography ruled the evening, and Gomez sprinkled audience niceties in alongside speeches about how her ups and downs have been lived out mostly in public.

But things never got much deeper than surface level. “All right, now it’s time for a throwback,” she said before launching into “Slow Down,” which hails from all the way back in 2013.

Her past hits, such as “Come & Get It” and “Love You Like a Love Song,” were given hard-edged electro makeovers – not necessarily upgrades, just updates.

The best production element came during “Me & My Girls,” when she was wheeled out on a chariot to a stage with a matador theme. Why matadors? Why not?

There weren’t any narratives tying the set together; when Gomez covered the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” late in the show. It didn’t seem to be used as a cautionary tale or a comment on her life, but rather just a song she wanted to perform. If there was more to it, she didn’t sell it enough or make the significance of it evident.

She should hammer home the point, if she has one to make. Rather than being a pop star in training, it’s time she starts owning the role.