Review: Olivia Rodrigo connects with fans on the Guts World Tour

Rising superstar delivers fun-filled fan-friendly show

Who: Olivia Rodrigo, Chappell Roan
Where: Scotiabank Arena, 40 Bay St.
When: Fri., March 29
Vibe: Joyful, unlimited fun
Highlight: A crescent moon takes Olivia for a ride around the arena to say hello to fans
Next: Second night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on March 30; U.S. and EU tour continues
Rating: NNNNN (out of 5)

OLIVIA RODRIGO was born for the stage. The young songwriter catapulted to idol status in just a few short years, and it crosses my mind before the show that she simply may not be ready. The art of performance is something that you learn through experience, and here is a songstress who has never had to walk through the fire of being an opening act for anyone. Among the crowds of adoring fans, from young girls to enthusiastic parents to the millennials all singing along to her songs at a resounding volume, Olivia Rodrigo proved that she has that innate star power. And if you’re wondering if she can really sing as well as she sounds on her studio vocals, the answer is an impressive “yes.”

Let’s not forget the opener, Chappell Roan, who is also a force to reckon with. Her short but sweet set is full of unfettered fun, getting the crowd dancing along and spelling out the letters to her song, HOT TO GO! à la YMCA. Both Chappell and Rodrigo work with producer Dan Nigro, and you can hear the crossover of those shared influences in their songs. Chappell is an up-and-coming star in her own right, who is sure to be headlining her own arena tours in the near future, following the footsteps of campy icons like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

The stage has two angular catwalks on its left and right, with a large video screen. A video plays with purple candles spelling out “GUTS” melting away to count down to show time.

Rodrigo starts strong with big hits like bad idea, right?, vampire and driver’s license right away. Every moment of the show is thoughtful yet authentic. It’s inspiring to see that both Rodrigo and Chappell make a great effort to feature their all-female band members. There is so much room on stage if women keep supporting other women. Rodrigo plays guitar and piano together with her six-piece rock band at times, jamming out together and smashing the drum cymbals after playing obsessed.

The show is paced out with piano ballads, choreography with her dance team, outfit changes and saying hello to all her fans. Halfway through the concert, glittery stars float, suspended midair as Rodrigo rides a crescent moon around the stadium singing logical and enough for you while waving to everyone.

Watching her interact with fans, you get the sense that she truly cares about each one of them. She thanks a fan who drove 1,500 miles to come to the show, high-fives the fans she can reach in the first few rows and even asks the entire stadium to sing Happy Birthday to a young fan at their first-ever concert. There’s also a fancam minute that displays some of the best outfits of the night with the tour’s unofficial themes: purple and black outfits, prom queen sashes, cowboy hats, silver sequins and vampires. When Rodrigo ends the encore set with get him back! and a blast of star-shaped confetti, she graciously accepts many fan-made gifts from the front row and takes a moment to acknowledge them as best as she can.

At 21 years old, Olivia Rodrigo is already a superstar who clearly works hard to make her dreams come true. We can only assume that we can expect even greater things from her in the next decade.