Pop Singer Troye Sivan Performs to Capacity Crowd at Lakewood Civic Auditorium

A YouTube sensation, 21-year-old South African-born Australian singer, songwriter and actor Troye Sivan possesses a winning personality.

Sivan, who’s openly gay (he came out via a YouTube video, natch), regularly professes his support for the LGBTQ community, and members of the community make up his fervent fanbase.

With last year’s full-length debut, Blue Neighborhood, he had a massive hit. He’s still touring in support of the album and during last minute’s 90-minute concert before a capacity crowd at Lakewood Civic Auditorium, he regularly thanked fans for being so supportive and often took time between songs to read the signs they had brought and compliment concert goers on their fashion choices for the evening. He truly seemed humbled by the attention.

As much as Sivan came off as likeable and mature beyond his age, his performance ultimately lacked the kind of passion you expect from a live concert and came off as rather one-dimensional and uninspired (think Justin Bieber more than, say, Halsey).

Sivan’s vocals on songs such as “Cool,” “for him.” and “Ease” had a digital quality to them and sounded as if they were being run through some kind of filter that made them come off as canned and club-ready. His vocals on the studio versions simply have more warmth.

While the personal nature of the tunes would suggest a need to emote or at least sound somewhat soulful, Sivan too often sounded monotone and rarely showed any vocal range. Accompanied by a drummer and two keyboardists with whom he rarely interacted (the servant jam at the end of "Suburbia" was the exception), Sivan might have been better off singing to a backing track. His dance moves generally consisted of shaking his shoulders and didn’t involve any real finesse, though his platform boots didn’t appear to hinder his ability to traverse the stage.

Trip-hop beats provided both "Youth" and “DKLA,” two of the show's highlights, with a bit more of an edge and “Lost Boy” was catchy in a “Bad Day” sort of way. But too often, the mid-tempo pop tunes blurred together. The soft hues of purple and blue light didn’t help bring the songs to life either, though seeing Sivan’s silhouette in front of a bright red backdrop of lights created a dramatic opening for “DKLA.”

Despite the show’s flaws, Sivan deserves credit for contributing to and promoting the Ally Coalition, which allows fans to volunteer to spread awareness and advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in school curriculum. He even described the charity’s mission as his "No. 1 priority.” The guy's convictions are laudable even if his songs didn’t quite hit home last night.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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