Words edited by Anna Mengani
Melanie Martinez plays to a sold-out crowd in Phoenix, AZ on her Portals Tour on June 12, 2023
Photos and Review by Hannah Kelly
The night began with a set by Tanukichan, a San Francisco-based singer/songwriter. She played an impressive ten-song set. Her music is a juxtaposition of grungy instrumentals and dreamy, euphoric vocals The ten songs were a mix of nine original songs and one cover. The cover was 'Thank You' by Dido, during which she prompted the crowd to light up the room with their cell phone lights. The set flew by as I was captivated by her dreamy vocals. At the end of the set, Tanukichan invited the audience to come meet her at the merch booth.
As the theater went dark for Melanie's set, the crowd began shrieking with anticipation. The show opened with a visual of a candle burning slowly with a voice-over playing. Unfortunately, I couldn't make the words being spoken over all the screams that had erupted around me. Eventually, a laser materialized and created a really visually interesting portal. Melanie then appeared from the portal in full album cover, fairy makeup and a bikini-like set make of moss; and the show began.
The set list for Melanie was simply her playing the entire deluxe edition of her most recent album, Portals, from front to back, in order. To start, she played 'Death' as a mushroom with "R.I.P Crybaby" carved into it appeared on the screen behind her. 'Death' was the first single released from the album and references the death of her old character, Crybaby, and her rebirth into this new, nymph-like creature. The chorus of the song repeating the phrase "I'm back from the dead" over and over again.
She continued immediately into the songs 'Void,' 'Tunnel Vision,' and 'Faerie Soirée,' taking no break in between to speak to the crowd and break the character illusion. During 'Faerie Soirée,' pride flag-colored lights flashed on the stage, perhaps referencing real-life Melanie's bisexual identity.
She continued through the album tracks, playing through 'Light Show' and 'Spider Web.' During 'Spider Web,' a large web was spread across the back of the stage. Pushing on, she played 'Leeches,' 'Battle of the Larynx,' and 'The Contortionist.' She had dancers with her on stage throughout the entire set, but their dancing blew me away the most during 'The Contortionist,' during which the dancers did back-breaking bends, as the name of the song implies.
She finished out the original version of the album with songs 'Moon Cycle,' 'Nymphology,' 'Evil,' and 'Womb,' which also brought the "end" of her set before she came back to the stage for her encore. She seemed happy to be on stage throughout the set, feeding off the energy the audience was giving to her. They were screaming every word, and she was eating it up. She finally broke character twice during these songs to say "Come on Phoenix, I know you can get louder than that" and "Thank you Phoenix" as she walked off the stage for the first time.
She returned to the stage and picked up where the deluxe version of the album starts, playing through 'Powder,' 'Pluto,' and 'Milk of the Siren.' You could tell how fulfilled she was playing to the sold-out crowd. The energy in the room was unmatched and it definitely made for an amazing performance. During 'Milk of the Siren' pink, butterfly-shaped confetti exploded out onto the audience. Melanie and her dancers also brought pansexual and progress pride flags onto the stage and waved them around as the final song was performed. She broke character one last time as she was about the exit the stage to thank the crowd for coming and growing with her on her journey. She said "I feel so, so happy and fulfilled as an artist. I have the best audience, you guys are so incredible. I could say it forever and forever and I will a million times...I love you so fucking much...I'm gonna go cry, get home safe." And with that, she left the stage.
Overall, I loved the show. I've seen Melanie Martinez a few times over the years, going all the way back to when she played in rooms of a couple hundred people. She's always been an incredible vocalist, but seeing her growth as a true artist has been amazing. It's very apparent in her live shows that she's obsessive over her art and point of view, which definitely pays off. I've been a fan for a long time and will continue to be for even longer. I can't wait to see what she does next.
Tanukichan's Social Media
Melanie Martinez's Social Media