Selena Gomez / Gary Gingrich Photography

Selena Gomez Returns with a Bang, Bang, Bang

Sprint Center (Kansas City, MO)
– Words by Laura Hill / Photos by Gary Gingrich –

The executives that run Walt Disney thank their lucky stars every day knowing their organization is being represented by a gracious star rather than a rebel without a cause – or conscience.

Selena Gomez isn’t trying to outgrow the wholesome image that was carefully crafted for her by the marketing team at the “Mouse”. She’s not rebelling against parents who instilled a strong sense of morals and values in her as well. Unlike the ungrateful star of Hannah Montana, this 21-year old beauty has done nothing but embrace the brand that helped make her a household name. Every time she steps on stage, whether it’s in the form of acting or singing, Disney management knows their name and what it symbolizes, are in excellent hands. That good will was on full display when the starlet touched down with her widely popular show at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Selena Gomez / Gary Gingrich Photography

It’s impossible to say anything bad about Gomez. Not only does she exude class with every breath she takes, her mere presence is an inspiration to young people everywhere. That was especially evident this evening with the numerous sing-a-longs this audience participated in. And never forget the adults in the crowd who were extremely grateful they too could attend a concert (as chaperones of course) that entertained them as well. When I say that Selena Gomez puts on a show for the ages, that’s exactly what she does. Parents, grandparents, teens, young adults and kids made up the entire population that temporarily relocated to the arena.

You can tell a lot about an artist by the people they surround themselves with. In this case, it’s not the band, the dancers or the back-up singers that inhabit Gomez’s world, but the opening acts she brings on the road with her. Tonight’s openers did an excellent job setting the stage for the pop queen and in the process, made thousands of new fans.

Emblem3 started out the night’s festivities. This trio of vocalists, including Drew Chadwick along with brothers Wesley and Keaton Stromberg, were quite familiar to this crowd because of the success they achieved in 2012 on the reality talent show, The X Factor. Though they were eliminated in the semi-finals, their mentor Simon Cowell saw the tremendous potential in the group and signed them to his own label. They released their major label debut, Nothing to Lose, shortly before they went on the road.

Two tracks from the album, “3000 Miles” and “Chloe (You’re The One I Want)” have become hits. Emblem3 are also beneficiaries of the new reality engulfing more and more up and coming young acts in the music business – social media. The group has 800,000 Twitter followers, 340,000 Instagram fans and 600,000 Facebook friends. Needless to say, they were well-received by this crowd and their hand-held devices.

Next up was Christina Grimmie. She also toured with Gomez back in the summer of 2011. This teen star gained a tremendous following a few years back when she reworked songs by Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus then posted them on her YouTube channel. It worked more than she could ever have imagined. Not only did those efforts land her on a nationwide tour, she got a management team out of it as well – Gomez’s parents.
Selena Gomez / Gary Gingrich Photography
This past summer the teen artist released her first major label recording, With Love. The talented singer performed five tracks from the new album including her current hit, the infectious “Absolutely Final Goodbye.” Accompanying herself on piano, Grimmie played a tremendous set that was not too adult for this young audience to appreciate.

With the opening acts out of the way, it was time for main attraction. This was the first tour Selena Gomez had undertaken without her regular band, The Scene, on the road with her. The talented singer didn’t dazzle the crowd by flying through the air or shooting pyro. What she did do was put on a very physical show with carefully choreographed numbers accompanied by eight dancers. The fact she was singing the entire time she was dancing was impressive. As for the stage itself, it was custom built in the shape of an S with a circular platform sporting a glowing G in the middle of it.

The only real subdued affect the recent Miley Cyrus discourse created with the entertainer was the toned down attire Gomez sported. Unlike the 2011 tour where her ample bosom was often highlighted in her various costume changes, tonight it was totally different. Only the young starlet’s bare midriff was visible with the white skirt and matching top outfit she chose to wear.

As for the music, the Texas native performed every song off her new disc except the heartfelt ballad, “Forget Forever.” In hindsight, the break-up song would have been overkill to sing considering the way she had already addressed the Justin Beiber situation. Around the half-way mark of the show, a video came on mocking the extensive tabloid coverage of her failed romance with the young Canadian bad boy. It was followed by the poignant number “Love Will Remember” that had words like “Jealousy” and “Breakup” flashing on the backdrop projection screens.

Gomez is a proud member of the Disney pipeline and had no problem extolling those virtues. Right before performing the song, “Who Says,” the singer told the audience she had always tried to be a good role model because both kids and parents trust her. The comment drew a tremendous applause and rightfully so. The past year had seen her life turned into tabloid fodder as the press was everywhere hoping to catch another faltering Disney star jump ship. The fact it didn’t happen was no surprise to this near capacity crowd.

Selena Gomez is one of those rare performers who parents feel very comfortable exposing their children to her presence. Without a doubt, this type of entertainment was a great bonding experience for both old and young alike. It was a chance to let daughters, and a few sons as well, exercise their impressive lung power as they screamed, sang and cheered their heroine throughout the night. Cell phones were definitely overloading various networks with wireless activity as kids and adults uploaded pictures onto social networking sites.

Watching the radiant Gomez on stage, you could see why Justin Beiber’s world has fallen apart since he was given the boot by the singer. His life has been beset with one bad decision after another while his “ex” has done nothing but move forward with dignity and no hint of controversy. All her moves were on display to the delight of the thousands who had converged on downtown Kansas City to share in Gomez’s wonderful glow.

It’s a safe bet no parent had any problem getting their charges off to bed when they got home. There’s nothing like three exciting hours of PG entertainment to soothe the savage beast within. Smiles were aplenty as the population inside the Sprint Center emptied out into the night air – and rightfully so.

James Villa