by MIKE CHAIKEN
UNCASVILLE– There were pyrotechnics on stage at the Christina Aguilera show at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Oct. 6.
But those fireworks weren’t generated by stage effects—although there were moments where jets on the stage floor shot steam into the air and lights twister and turned around the performer all night.
The pyrotechnics actually were generated by Aguilera’s voice and the passion she shouldered behind that voice.
Of the pop divas that have travelled to Connecticut over the past few months—Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, even newcomer Camilla Cabelo—Aguilera is the one true descendant of belters like Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.
And that has been her ambition all along, as she mapped out on her song “(Intro) Back to Basics” (which was not performed on Oct. 6) where she sang she wants to “wanna understand/What made the soul singers/ And the blues figures/ That inspired a higher generation.”
Although Aguilera got her start as a pop figure, she clearly wants to move beyond teen idol. She did quickly brush upon her early hits, “What a Girl Wants” and “C’mon Over” but it was more of an acknowledgement of her history. Pop warhorse “Genie In a Bottle” did get a full performance by Aguilera, but it was a darker, more dramatic approach than the original dared approach.
Throughout the evening, Aguilera made it clear, she is a woman with kids of her own. She not a girl any more.
Aguilera also made it clear she is firmly supportive of the #MeToo movement. “Beautiful” paid tribute to the diversity of women—in shape and psychology.
And when she covered James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World,” she transformed it into a tale of survivorship. The Godfather of Soul was singing about how a woman helps to soothe the troubled brow of a hard working man. But Aguilera turned the song on its head with a mimed stage play about domestic abuse. For Aguilera, the song became about a woman trying to fight back against a “man’s world” that discounts her worth and often ends in violence at the hands of a man who is supposed to love her. It was one of the most powerful moments of the night.
The newer tracks of the evening from her album “Liberation” also took a more darker tone. This includes tracks such as “Fall in Line” (“Little Girls… You are not beholden/You do not owe them/ Your body and your soul”) and “Twice” (“Are you devil? Are you angel? Am I heaven? Am I hell?”)
When Aguilera reached back to her catalogue, she selected tracks emphasized the individuality and the power of women, such as “Dirrty” and “Can’t Hold Us Down.”
Again, she was not interested in being a “boy toy” any more.
As noted, throughout the evening, Aguilera brought power and passion to her vocals. Of the female pop artists out there today, Aguilera’s voice has reached an entirely different level. And the energy she exuded made the audience want to dance and shout.
On this tour, Aguilera has spared no expense on production values. The stage set was awesome.
And for fans who love divas who indulge in costume changes, Aguilera indulged their sartorial desires with a multitude of wardrobe refreshes.
Aguilera mentioned that she has not toured in 10 years. But, the time away seems to have deepened her talents as an entertainer.
I give Christina Aguilera at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Oct. 6 four out of four stars.