Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas combine powers at the Palace

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Ex-Disney kids-turned pop stars Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas lead an efficient, economical night of pulsating pop at the Palace of Auburn Hills Saturday night.

The pair, who starred in Disney’s “Camp Rock” in 2008, proved all grown up as they traded performances during a 95-minute performance that gave fans the hits and let them get on with their night. The show wrapped up at 10 minutes to 10 p.m., early enough for the mostly teenage audience to leave the venue and still make curfew.

Jonas hit the stage first, kicking off an eight-song set with the propulsive “Levels,” which last summer helped solidify his standing as a solo hitmaker after the Jonas Brothers went their separate ways. (Brother Joe Jonas is also on the road with a former Disney princess this summer, as his DNCE opened dates for Selena Gomez. Nick got the better deal.)

Jonas was backed by a five-piece band and a pair of backup singers, and had an easygoing charisma as he rolled through R&B-influenced pop jams such as “Champagne Problems” and “Teacher.” He then threw what he called a “curve ball” into the mix, dipping back to “Who I Am,” the bouncy, upbeat title track from the 2010 album he released as part of Nick Jonas and the Administration.

As Jonas walked off to “Chains,” Lovato hit the stage to her pounding “Confident,” which with its chorus line of drums and lurching synths is cut from the same DNA as Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead.” Dressed in thigh high boots and a revealing bodysuit, Lovato strutted across the stage and down its catwalk with confidence, belting out empowering, self-assured anthems that usually built to a roar designed to showcase her meaty vocals.

After her own eight-song set she was joined on stage by Jonas, who played piano on her ballad “Stone Cold” and then took over for his own mini-set which included “Chainsaw” and “Jealous.” For “Close,” his duet with Tove Lo, he was joined by Lovato, who then closed the show on her own with a three-song set that finished with “Cool for the Summer,” her scorching bi-curious anthem that set radios ablaze last summer.

The back-and-forth format worked to the benefit of both performers, who were able to share headlining duties and combine their efforts rather than competing with one another. On their own, either set would have felt slight, but when merged together it felt fresh. (More artists are choosing to perform this way; Future’s set was sandwiched in the middle of Drake’s performance when the pair performed at the Palace earlier in the week, and Sting and Peter Gabriel mixed things up throughout their show together last month, rather than a typical opener-headliner dynamic.)

Southfield-bred pop singer Mike Posner kicked off the show with a six-song, 35-minute set that energized the crowd early. Backed by a five-piece band that gave an organic, full-bodied feel to early synth-heavy productions such as “Please Don’t Go” and “Cooler Than Me,” Posner darted around the stage, bounced in place and quickly won over the crowd with his infectious presence.

After performing a moving version of his hometown anthem “Buried in Detroit,” Posner took on his career resuscitating smash “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” and made a powerful speech at song’s end that touched on his recent move home from Los Angeles, seeing Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark tour at the Palace and his own restlessness with his career.

“Just shoot me!” he said, rolling onto his back on the stage and staring up at the Palace rafters. “I want to die right here, on stage in my hometown with everybody I love! Bury me under this ground, so every time the Pistons make a shot I can hear the swish sound!” The speech was loaded with heart and disarming honesty, and the night would never get that real again.