On tracks like “On The Loose” and “Since We’re Alone”, the formula of fat, warm bass and drums anchoring light guitars and harmonies comes straight from the Fleetwood Mac playbook (indeed, the latter’s guitar vamp irresistibly recalls “Dreams”).Elsewhere, his grasp of country-rock modes is firm but light, Horan harmonising with himself on “You And Me” like a reedier version of Don and Phil Everly, while lilting folksy strummers such as “Seeing Blind” and “Flicker” glow like late-afternoon sunlight in Laurel Canyon.
The music continued into the night at the T-Mobile Arena with high wattage bows by Kesha, Miley Cyrus (in thigh-high “walking”-ready boots, Kings of Leon, Lorde, Big Sean (the MVP of the night, who flew in from the Global Citizen Festival in New York to keep the party going and “end my night right here in Vegas”), Thomas Rhett, Tomlinson and Horan, and DJ Khaled, who loaded his set with surprise appearances by Chance the Rapper; Travis Scott (recently announced pregnant girlfriend Kylie Jenner supported from backstage), for “Butterfly Effect” and “Goosebumps;” French Montana on “Unforgettable;” and Demi Lovato, who hopped onstage for “Sorry, Not Sorry.” Other surprise appearances included Macklemore, who joined Kesha onstage at the T-Mobile arena for their brand new collaboration “Good Old Days.” The singer then took an emotional turn with her hit, “Praying.” Fellow Nashville natives Kings of Leon, meanwhile, represented for the rock format, opening their set with “Use Somebody” and killer versions of “Sex on Fire” and “Waste a Moment.” Self-described “young goth” Lorde, introduced by actor Taylor Lautner, who promptly went straight out into the audience to groove to her set, lamented that she wasn’t old enough to gamble in Sin City, but delivered a grown up and explosive show that had two surprise performers: rising star Khalid on “Homemade Dynamite” and producer Jack Antonoff who sat at the piano to perform “Liability,” a song they wrote together.
Country star Thomas Rhett represented the genre beautifully with his ’50s-inspired “Crash and Burn,” the Maren Morris duet “Craving You,” and gorgeous “Die a Happy Man.” Rhett also gave props to Lorde, declaring that the 20-year old New Zealand star “blew my mind tonight.” If anything, Rhett represented all that the i Heart Festival is all about.
Higgins arrived shortly after Cyrus, just missing his moment in the spotlight as she declared her love for the star and dedicated her song, “I’m Stuck,” to him from the stage. Indeed, it was a Cyrus family affair at the show, with sister Noah performing earlier in the day and Brandy delivering a guitar to Miley onstage later, when Cyrus played a potent set of hits that included “Malibu,” “We Can’t Stop,” a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking” and an incredible reinventing of the song “Party in the USA” with messages on the screen touting education, equality, opportunity, and even healthcare.
“It’s not a party in the USA if we don’t have equality, justice, understanding, change, expression kindness, opportunity [and] I won’t stop fighting for justice for every f—ing single one of you,” she said — one of 12 F-bombs she dropped during her 25-minute performance.
Backstage, Cyrus told syndicated radio host Elvis Duran that she wants to influence fans to “stand up to discrimination,” and made the song “more of a message for people.” Referencing her infamous Video Music Awards appearance with Robin Thicke in 2014 “when everyone was me for Halloween,” she said she would rather have a positive social impact in these times.
“If people are going to talk about me I want them to have something to say,” she added.
Willie Nelson, , on which his son Lukas (more recently backing up Neil Young with his band Promise Of The Real) was prominently featured.
Another son, Micah, was subsequently added to these recordings of country standards, mostly written by Hank Williams, supported by sundry other Hanks (Locklin, Cochran and Snow).
An homage to Jean Renoir’s peerless, ice-cold comedy of manners, it’s an indication of how high Bejar is aiming, and how low our world can stoop.
he keeps faith with the West Coast influences that first drew him into music.
The excitement of the day crackled onstage and off.