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November 25, 2014

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Review: Miley Cyrus can’t be tamed in ‘Bangerz Tour’ stop at MGM Grand

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Tom Donoghue / DonoghuePhotography.com

Miley Cyrus performs at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in MGM Grand.

Miley Cyrus Bangerz Tour at MGM Grand

Miley Cyrus performs at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in MGM Grand. Launch slideshow »

Sky Ferreira and Icona Pop Open for Miley Cyrus

Sky Ferreira opens for Miley Cyrus on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Launch slideshow »

“You can’t have too much tongue at a Miley Cyrus concert.”

So said the headline-making 21-year-old singer-songwriter — whose mantra these days is refreshingly “I don’t care what you think of me because I’m going to say and do whatever I want” — halfway through her “Bangerz Tour” stop at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night, encapsulating the mood of her nonstop, 2-hour, super-fun, circus-freak-show concert.

Let’s get the shock-value and eyebrow-raising elements out of the way:

* Cyrus makes her entrance via slide in the shape of a tongue.

* Her backup cast includes colorful furry animals aplenty; bedazzled and barely there unitards and halter tops aplenty; Little Britney; Madonna (whom Cyrus later praised in reference to their recent MTV special “Miley Unplugged”), Lady Gaga and Beyonce lookalikes; and Amazon Ashley, reportedly the world’s tallest stripper.

* During “Love, Money, Party,” she rolled onstage aboard a gold automobile spread eagle for most of the song — until she shoved her derriere in the air for all the audience to see and then started humping the vehicle.

* Also ample throughout the concert: her tongue, a few twerks (not as many as one might expect) and F bombs.

* During “Adore You,” Cyrus kissed a female fan — for a very long time — and exclaimed afterward, “You let me kiss you longer than Katy Perry did!”

* During “Someone Else,” right before her exit stage left and encore, she soared above the audience — on a hot dog.

* And the audience was … eclectic, from gay couples wearing only boxer briefs to dude bros (with their girlfriends) to (underage) teenage girls wearing only bras and short shorts or skirts to skeezy and older-than-60 men not-so-covertly taking cell phone photographs of them. Ew. Double ew.

Behind the spectacle, however (which is spectacular, from the excellent animation to the staging), is a talented young singer-songwriter who is a natural entertainer. She’s in her provocateur stage — she is only 21 — and is following in the footsteps of Lady Gaga (meat dresses, anyone?) and Madonna (um, masturbating near/with a crucifix comes to mind).

Cyrus can sing: Her performance of “Wrecking Ball” during the first-time daytime Village at last year’s iHeartRadio Music Festival, the same week the single became her first No. 1, was heart wrenching and the highlight of the afternoon. (She performed the song again that evening at iHeart at MGM Grand Garden Arena.)

And it’s great to see a performer onstage who is having as much fun as her adoring audience (maybe even more fun). DJs Pauly D and Tiesto were in the crowd Saturday night.

The (vocal) highlights of the evening: “Adore You,” in which couples — mostly female-female and a few male-female — were encouraged to smooch for the large screen (Cyrus welcomed gay couples to kiss, too, as everyone is loved in the House of Miley); Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness”; Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” a nice tip of the Stetson to the country music legend who portrayed her grandma on “Hannah Montana”; Linda Ronstadt’s “Ruler of My Heart” (Cyrus excels at country; she should do more of it); and “23” (Cyrus is a pretty good rapper).

Miley Cyrus at MGM Grand Garden Arena

Miley Cyrus performs at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

The setlist: “SMS (Bangerz),” “4x4,” “Love, Money, Party,” “My Darlin,’ ” “Maybe You’re Right,” “FU,” “Do My Thang,” “#GetItRight,” “Can’t Be Tamed,” “Adore You,” “Drive” and “Rooting for My Baby.”

Also: a cover of OutKast’s “Hey Ya,” a cover of The Arctic Monkeys’ “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?,” a cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness,” a cover of Parton’s “Jolene” and a cover of Ronstadt’s “Ruler of My Heart.”

Returning to her material, she finished with “23” (minus Mike Will Made It, Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J), “On My Own” and “Someone Else,” and the encore was “We Can’t Stop,” “Wrecking Ball” and, after what seemed like one-third of the audience departing, “Party in the USA.”

It was a memorable party in the USA. (Incidentally, Cyrus, with her short blond pixie cut, looks a lotta bit like Justin Bieber. Just sayin’.)

Los Angeles singer-songwriter Sky Ferreira and Swedish DJ duo Icona Pop — Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt — served as the opening acts. Icona Pop’s set appropriately hyped up the crowd for Cyrus, with hits including “I Love It” (much more enjoyable live vs. the radio), “All Night” and “Just Another Night.” They were high energy and a lot of fun and left this journalist wanting more.

Thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue and Steve Marcus of the Las Vegas Sun for their photo galleries.

Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

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