Review: Lizzo twerks it for final 'Special' tour date that ends with a marriage proposal

REVIEW: All good things must come to an end.

Such as it is for Lizzo, who wrapped up her 'Special' world tour at Auckland's Spark Arena on the chilliest of mid-winter nights - but quite frankly, not one person at the end of the show cared about the cold, given how they were bathed in the warm glow of euphoria and fervent adoration throughout.

But while the sparkly-dressed, shades-wearing singer was in a reflective mood at times, using moments to "take it all in", she finished the arena portion of the tour in the most of Kiwi of ways  - from a high-energy performance to serenading a same-sex couple who were part of a successful proposal.

To say the build up was intense is to undersell it - bathed in a pink hue, and with sequins, sparkling lights and Barbiefied outfits adorning the packed stadium, anticipation is almost of the Second-Coming nature.

Yet, after just shy of two hours with Lizzo, you can see why.

This is the Church of Lizzo, and with her generous nature and her boundless energy amid the high level choreography, this was a show that shone from beginning to end, regardless of whether you were a casual lover of her radio hits or a rabid disciple of her deep album cuts.

It's a show that celebrates self-belief, self-empowerment and selfies. It's a show that centres on performances - both from the incredibly powerful body-positive dancers and Lizzo's own goofy facials that are beamed up on the big screens. It's a show that has flourishes, dazzling neon visuals and corny camera close ups that feels like it's made for arenas and dazzling nights out.

But it's also a show that is generous, warm, inclusive and welcoming.

Opening with a message of the tour's tone of self-love and urging fans to "dance, sing, giggle and scream," the show kicks off with 'Cuz I Love You' before hitting the high upbeat disco energy of '2 B Loved' and 'Juice'. 

Everybody in Spark Arena responds in kind and for the majority of the show, no-one is seated, everyone is enthused by infectious disco pulses and soulful funk interludes.

Lizzo spent much of the show proudly displaying her pounamu.
Lizzo spent much of the show proudly displaying her pounamu. Photo credit: Newshub

"Welcome to the last night of the Special tour - it's already historic as it's the last arena show of my first arena tour; we are not going to have this feeling again," she tells a crowd already eating out of her hand. But it's hard to know exactly if this is emotion or exhaustion, with many pronounced pauses punctuating most of the show as she stops to "take it all in."

She gathers herself, composes and flashes that cheeky grin that's endeared her to many -"Do Kiwis know how to twerk?" she asks, sending an already rapturous crowd further into delirium.

The soulful, joyful edges of the show bounce to life - her dancers mightily impress and her backing band proves extremely tight, taut and terrific as the light-filled spectacle unfurls. The cameras grant every one their moment to shine, and Lizzo stands at the back, like a proud ringmaster watching the performances and using her generosity to maximum effect.

This is an extremely polished show, an accomplished arena event that offered visual spectacle as well as musical perfection. But among all the high performance values, Lizzo never once lost the sincerity or the heart. Though admittedly there are moments when a lot of the show feels staged and over-rehearsed (perhaps a victim of a long tour cycle), lacking moments of spontaneity as it hurtles through an extensive list of tunes and hits.

When she finishes 'Special' for the last time, she pauses, ("Thank you for letting me take that in"), looking overwhelmed with emotion; a cynic would suggest she's playing the crowd, playing a part - but a cynic has no place at a Lizzo concert, a space where decency, honesty and truth prevail. 

Lizzo's dancers were second to none.
Lizzo's dancers were second to none. Photo credit: Tom Grut / Live Nation

Lizzo spends plenty of time playing for the crowd, but never to them - it's an important distinction for a performer, and her earnestness is as sincere as it comes. 

"I wanna thank the Māori people for giving me this," she says, bearing a pounamu greenstone necklace and spending much of the rest of the show either touching it or making sure it's proudly on display.

She spends time interacting with the crowd during a protracted segment that gives everyone a moment to feel special as she comments on their clothing, their signs and their general good vibes. She acknowledges having been here before ("This is my second time here"), she comments on a trio of Māori dancing and waving in the crowd, she raves about having twerked in a gold bikini at Piha that went global; every moment feels personal and somehow intimate despite sharing it with thousands of others. Selfies are taken, signs are autographed and fans are left feeling their moment of empowerment from their idol.

And then it happens - a traveller from Perth starts going on about a ring he's had on his finger, how he saw Lizzo at the start of her Special tour and was here for the finale. Just as the cynicism starts to creep in that he's milking his moment, it becomes clear why - he wants to propose to his boyfriend in front of the masses. It's obviously a yes, and Lizzo serenades the couple with 'I Love You Bitch', telling them this is their first dance.

From there, the show wraps up with 'Good as Hell' and 'About Damn Time', Lizzo talks of feeling filled with gratitude and how she played in a room to 50 people and that "y'all like me, you really like me." It's the generosity as she takes the time to thank the band, the production and everyone - it's like an Oscar speech but it's more genuine and the sincerity she packs in shows really why she's been so embraced.

While Lizzo may be glad to wrap up the tour, there's no doubt she left many in the audience feeling special and loved. Perhaps for an artist that's so vocal about self-love and acceptance for who you are no matter what in the cynical and dangerous world we live in, that's no bad thing to take away.