It is a modern-day edifice birthed by the need to give a voice to the soul; a place where the human existence meets artistic expression creating one mechanism that spews timeless music and movement from its fractured being. I am speaking of the masterpiece known as the Nostalgic for the Present Tour featuring Sia.
Drafted as opening acts, AlunaGeorge and Miguel amped up the Vegas crowd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center this past October. The North American tour runs across 23 dates, beginning in September and concluding in November of 2016, and supports her latest album, This Is Acting. With such a brilliant discography, a stellar accompanying tour is only to be expected. As previously stated, it is unexplainable; however, I’ll do my best to explain it.
To begin, we will need to be well-informed regarding the artist herself. Typically, an air of mystery surrounds the name ‘Sia’. Most know of her hits such as “Titanium” and “Alive”, although she has been established in the industry much sooner than when many discovered her. Sia, however, prefers the mystery. In fact, she practically designed it herself. The giant wigs and headpieces shielding her face that we now know of are a conscious choice; a derivative of Sia’s need to maintain privacy and avoid the invasive limelight, letting her fame exist due to her songwriting ability and not her image.
Knowing this, the tour seems to be a fully-realized creation straight from Sia’s heart. The direction she has taken her career in, revealing only her voice, explodes here in a supernova of dramatic performance art and otherworldly vocals. An honest breath of fresh air. And somehow, even though it is easy to forget she is even on stage, Sia manages to connect to each individual attendee more than most performers do. The show begins with Sia at center stage, placed delicately on a platform. As the show progresses, Sia can be found dressed in white with her signature bow and wig in a far corner of the stage. In a pop cultural plot twist, the headlining star whose name is on the marquee stands off in the distance; it is as if she is the supporting act to the performance taking place on stage. However, you can only forget her presence for so long before her echoing voice calls you back in.
The level of value put into this tour is astounding. The screens play a high-quality version of exactly what is being seen on the simple yet iconic stage. A white platform backed by a large canvas set the scene for the show. This simplicity helps create a beautiful mix of modern technology and theatrical talent where the effect of lighting and props are brought to life by dynamic performers. Of these performers, the young superstar, Maddie Ziegler, reigns supreme. It can even be said that the show would not be the same if it were not for Ziegler. The young lady we have all fallen in love with from many of Sia’s performances and music videos has blossomed into a true performer. Her charisma and technique are built up around Sia’s aching story and wildly-beautiful vocals to show a struggle involving innocence, loss, anxiety, and despair. Fleeting expressions of joy are shadowed by a dark matter, one of which that is inevitably relatable.
Throughout the 75 minutes the show takes place, we are taken through a journey of many emotions. As we learn more of Sia, we cannot help but reflect upon our own selves and our own stories. The choreography, created by Ryan Heffington, is hypnotic and unlike what exists in pop music today. Kristen Wiig makes an appearance but similar to Sia’s approach, the focus is not on the star but rather the subject at hand. The lyrics to each of Sia’s tracks are put on center stage and expressed word-for-word. Attending this show feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that you will think of constantly at random moments throughout your day.
From the introduction through to its conclusion, the story of the Nostalgic for the Present Tour is inspiring. Sia provides comfort to those in any form of trouble or ache. Hearing her music is liberating, but witnessing it in person takes it to another level. Many of the fans were seen crying, hugging one another, and lost in a gaze as they stared intently at the show, not to miss a thing. Sia sang every note and then some, and we were constantly craving more. Then, after an encore performance, the curtains sadly began to close. We finally heard Sia speak, with her Australian twang, as she softly spoke four simple words to complete the show: “I love you. Forever.” Her presence may be a mystery, but her warm spirit sure is not. We love you too, Sia.