Demi Lovato brings her final tour to the District featuring classic Disney hits

Media Credit: Courtesy of Kevin Mazur

Lovato closed the show with her fan favorite track “Cool for the Summer,” amassing cheers from the energetic crowd.

Demi Lovato brought the North American leg of her “HOLY FVCK” tour to an energetic crowd at The Anthem Monday for what may be her final show in the District, according to a now-deleted Instagram story post last month.

Lovato has been open about her struggles with drug and alcohol addiction since 2010 when she went to rehab during her rise to Disney Channel stardom. The singer has been fully clean and sober for about a year following their 2018 overdose when they relapsed after six years of sobriety, but she has been experiencing other health setbacks on tour this year that have signaled the end of her touring career.

“I can’t do this anymore,” Lovato wrote to her fans after waking up sick the morning of her show in Santiago, Chile last month. “This next tour will be my last. I love and thank you guys.”

Following a bout of illness that caused Lovato to wake up with “no voice” last week, the star was forced to postpone their show in Rosemont, Illinois last Wednesday, but she was back with her powerhouse vocals just in time for her D.C. show.

Lovato opened the show with four tracks – “HOLY FVCK,” “FREAK,” “SUBSTANCE” and “EAT ME” – from their critically acclaimed eighth studio album, a divergence from their previous soft pop album “Dancing With The Devil…The Art of Starting Over,” released in April 2021. Although Lovato’s new grungy rock album deviates from much of her discography, it also bears a striking resemblance to some of the beloved Disney tracks that she released as an angsty teen like “Don’t Forget” and “La La Land,” both of which made their way onto the setlist.

Following the brief introduction of her newer music, Lovato’s all-women band transitioned into “Here We Go Again” followed by “Remember December,” two pop-rock breakup songs from Lovato’s second studio album that were released during her prime Disney days in 2009. The crowd sang along to every word, accompanying Lovato’s impressive vocal range and electric guitar playing skills.

Next, Lovato sang “La La Land” – one of my favorite songs to ever come from Disney Channel. The tongue-in-cheek anthem still rings true today, as Lovato calls out the “la la land machine” that is the music industry despite representing Disney Channel at the time, a network that has been known to take advantage of its young artists. In hindsight, fans cannot help but notice the irony after Lovato has spoken out about the abuse she and countless other Disney stars faced.

Lovato went on to sing “Don’t Forget,” the title track from her 2008 debut album. It was a cathartic experience to stand in a pit surrounded by fellow women in their 20s who grew up listening to a 16-year-old Lovato sing these same songs while we were in elementary school.

Next, Lovato moved into their more recent catalog of songs, performing “The Art Of Starting Over,” an upbeat-yet-calm track from their 2021 album. Lovato told the crowd that while her newest album is her favorite she has ever released, this track is her most treasured from her previous album. The crowd danced along to the catchy melodies and uplifting lyrics, providing a necessary variation from the electric guitar riffs.

“These next two songs are very special to me,” Lovato told the audience after a pause. “I wrote it while falling in love,” she said before playing “4 EVER 4 ME,” a ballad written for Lovato’s boyfriend and fellow musician Jordan Lutes. The track samples “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls, which an emotional Lovato sang midway through “4 EVER 4 ME,” to replace the bridge of the song.

The poignant mood continued with “Skyscraper,” the sole song on the setlist from her 2011 album “Unbroken.” The emotional ballad detailing Lovato’s personal battle with self-harm struck a chord with many fans in the audience, prompting the members of the crowd to sway with their phone flashlights beaming through the air.

The heightened emotions were sustained in the next song, “29,” widely speculated to be about Lovato’s former relationship with actor Wilmer Valderrama. When the couple began dating, Lovato was a minor and Valderrama was 29. In “29,” Lovato explains that after turning 29 herself, she recognizes their past relationship as grooming. Valderrama has also admitted to dating actresses Mandy Moore and Lindsay Lohan while they were 15 and 17 and he was well into his 20s.

Lovato referenced the recent TikTok trend in which survivors of abusive relationships with significant age gaps use the sound to share their stories. “This song is really important to me – when I released it, so many of you guys put your stories out on social media,” Lovato said to the crowd.

“If you relate to this song, I’m so so sorry,” Lovato continued. “No one should ever have to relate to this song. If you do, I see you, I hear you and I love you.”

Lovato closed the show with her fan-favorite track “Cool for the Summer.” The single reached success in the year of its release in 2015, peaking at 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and charting for 20 weeks straight. But this past year, the song has taken a new life on TikTok, with multiple sped-up versions amassing more than 5 million videos on the app.

Lovato never fails to dazzle with their vocals as a live performer, but it was evident through her lack of energy at Monday’s show that a period of rest away from the limelight could benefit the ever-evolving artist greatly. As much as the crowd enjoyed the show, loyal fans that have stuck around for over a decade will more than empathize with Lovato taking some time off.

Lovato is undeniably an incomparable talent who has overcome countless obstacles in her lifetime, but she should put her mental and physical health first rather than “pushing through” for her fans.

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