Ariana Grande’s fans sing and scream in San Antonio

May 18, 2019 GMT

It’s a testament to the clarity of Ariana Grande’s voice that she almost always could be heard over her thousands of backup singers Friday night at the AT&T Center.

The more than 15,000 fans in attendance for the San Antonio stop of Grande’s Sweetener world tour were on their feet and singing from the moment she and her dance troupe rose through the stage floor in a Last Supper tableaux to open the show with “God Is a Woman.”

They would remain on their feet throughout the almost two-hour concert, which was loaded with songs from Grande’s last two albums. (A girl sitting next to me did have to sit for a spell after she wore herself out belting “7 Rings.”)


The audience was mostly female and mostly young — the line to the merch table was a mile long; the beer line was quite manageable — with fewer kitty cat ears visible than on previous tour stops here.

They were treated to a theatrical show — the musicians were pushed to the sides of the stage — that focused on song and dance, not spectacle.

There was a cool, 3-D video screen with a hemisphere feature that looked like a cosmic disco ball. And a few big props, such as the pink car that was the centerpiece of “7 Rings” and the moon that descended over the pit during “NASA.”

But the vast stage and arch-shaped runway, which covered more than half of the arena floor, were mostly bare, giving Grande and a dozen dancers room to roam.

The dancers tagged along with Grande like a loose-limbed posse having fun, though she also was alone onstage for several songs, the focal point for her fans’ very vocal adoration.

The night was a seminar in screams. There were casual, perfunctory screams ushering opening act Social House offstage. A yawp of recognition when a Panic! at the Disco song played over the sound system. The extended din that greeted Grande when she took the stage or kicked off a favorite song. And ear-piercing shrieks inspired by an awesome dance move or just an overload of feelings

Grande’s recent streaming smashes, “7 Rings” and “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored,” got the loudest reaction, along with earlier hits like “Side to Side,” but the singing and screaming never really subsided until she left the stage following a one-song encore, “Thank U, Next.”

Speaking of next, support act Normani and her all-female band made a strong impression with a sound that was deeper and funkier than her girl group Fifth Harmony. Her short set featured her collaborations with Sam Smith and Khalid, “Dancing With a Stranger” and “Love Lies,” a Fifth Harmony medley that included “Work From Home” and “Worth It,” and a slow-burning cover of Rihanna’s “Diamonds.”

Jim Kiest is the arts and entertainment editor for the San Antonio Express-News. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | jkiest@express-news.net | Twitter: @jimik64