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Lizzo gets intimate at Saint Andrew's Hall before going big at Little Caesars Arena

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

The night before her homecoming blowout at Little Caesars Arena, Detroit-born Lizzo powered through a private concert at the much smaller Saint Andrews Hall, an exclusive performance for roughly 500 contest winners that later will be broadcast on SiriusXM satellite radio.

Lizzo complained of stuffy sinuses throughout the 13-song, 55-minute show, and apologized to the crowd for the quality of her voice. "My vocals not vocalin' today!" she said.

But the thrill of a big artist on a small stage provided more than enough energy for crowd and performer, and Lizzo, taking a pause a quarter of the way through her "Special" tour, which launched two weeks ago in Florida and wraps Nov. 18 in Los Angeles, was clearly amped up to be back in a small room after getting used to performing in large-scale arenas.

Lizzo performs live at Saint Andrew's Hall for SiriusXM's Small Stage Series Presented By American Express on October 05, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.

"This is what I do!" she said, following a cover of Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)," clutching her sparkly, glittery mic stand with both hands. "Put me in a rock club and I'll give you a rock show!"

The last time she was in this particular rock club was in May 2019, as her star was beginning to take flight on the strength of her hit singles "Juice" and "Truth Hurts." The latter would ride the top of Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart for seven weeks later that year.

She's since become a Grammy winner and a multi-media mogul (check out her reality competition series "Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls" on Amazon Prime Video), and she returned to music this summer with her fourth studio album, "Special." The set debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart and gave Lizzo her second No. 1 hit, "About Damn Time," which managed to sneak a couple of weeks in on top of the chart in between reigns of Harry Styles' "As It Was."

"About Damn Time" is a fair encapsulation of the Lizzo sound and brand: positive, upbeat and catchy, a soundtrack for a gleaming night out with friends.

Lizzo performs live at Saint Andrew's Hall For SiriusXM's Small Stage Series Presented By American Express on October 05, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.

Those friends Wednesday were represented by the mostly female capacity crowd, which sang and clapped along to Lizzo (born Melissa Jefferson) and her five-piece, all-female band. She was joined on stage by two female dancers and performed in front of a large SiriusXM backdrop, a downscaled production from the arena extravaganza she'll bring to 15,000 fans at a sold-out LCA on Thursday, as long as her sinuses don't get the better of her, that is.

Lizzo hit the stage after being introduced by the SiriusXM Hits 1's Morning Mash Up hosts Ryan, Nicole and Stanley T, and gave a hearty, "What up, Detroit?" as she launched into bouncy opener "The Sign." "2 B Loved (Am I Ready)" followed, and she asked a stagehand to flip the setlist that was taped to the stage in her direction so she could read it.

She then gave a shout-out to the hospital where she was born in April 1988 — "Hutzel Hospital, what's good?" — before touching on "Rumors," mouthing Cardi B's verse on the song to the crowd.

That kind of looseness signified the evening, making it a spirited if low-key party, with Lizzo (who moved from Detroit to Houston with her family at age 10, and later relocated to Minneapolis) taking gulps of water in between songs.

Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman" received a mid-show run-through, and "Birthday Girl" led to a birthday girl in the crowd being brought up on stage, before the biggies ("Cuz I Love You," "Truth Hurts," "Good As Hell") arrived late in the show. Lizzo played flute on several songs, segueing into a piece of Chic's "Good Times" during closer "About Damn Time."

Lizzo performs live at Saint Andrew's Hall for SiriusXM's Small Stage Series Presented By American Express on October 05, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.

And then it was time for Lizzo to leave, and she was off stage by 9:20 p.m.

Fans, made up of SiriusXM contest winners, were given tote bags that included hoodies, a water bottle, a hat and a $30 gift card from sponsor American Express that can be used at local small businesses.

Lizzo's Saint Andrew's Hall concert will be broadcast on SiriusXM's Hits 1 channel at 9 p.m. Oct. 12, and later on SiriusXM's The Heat at 8 p.m. Oct. 14.