Grande brought the series of intimate shows to Los Angeles’ Ace Theatre on Saturday night, giving fans one of the first tastes of live performances of new songs off her latest album, “Sweetener.” Less than a week after performing “God Is a Woman” on a massive stage and in front of millions of people for the MTV Video Music Awards, Grande switched it up, getting up-close-and-personal with fans with a relaxed show in a theater that seats only 1,600.
And even her fiance was along for the ride. Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live” fame introduced her to the stage, telling the audience, “I can’t believe she talks to me” before the two shared a passionate smooch in front of the crowd.
From there, Grande let the audience dictate the vibe of her show — and much of her setlist. In between songs, Grande stopped to ask for requests, letting the most popular (or really, whichever one she was in the mood for) win. “We really don’t have any plans when we do these,” she told the crowd. “It’s really spontaneous and we just hang out.”
By popular demand, she opened with what is already a fan favorite from “Sweetener,” “Breathin’,” the first of many new songs she played Saturday night. She also debuted for fans “Sweetener”; a particularly sassy performance of “Successful,” getting up from her stool and dancing around the mic stand; “Blazed”; “Goodnight and Go”; “Better Off”; “R.E.M.”; “Pete Davidson”; and, perhaps one of the most fun few minutes, “Borderline,” where she grooved with her bandmates to the Missy Elliot-featured track.
But it wasn’t just new songs that Grande played for fans. She also performed “Only One,” a deep cut off “My Everything,” one that she never played live before. And she stayed true to her pledge to take request from fans. When she couldn’t hear a request in the front row, she moved closer to them, and told the audience, “She doesn’t know what listening sessions we’re at. She said ‘By My Baby,'” referring to another track off “My Everything.”
That didn’t mean Grande denied the request, however. She launched into an a capella version of the song as the audience sang along. “I told you these were just going to be random songs,” she later justified.
In between songs, Grande was loose and relaxed, riffing with fans, occasionally complaining that she couldn’t hear them well, and speaking to whatever was on her mind. At one point, she got a little emotional as she talked about the four-year anniversary of “My Everything” and upcoming five-year anniversary of “Yours Truly.” “I’m so annoying and emotional,” she apologized.
Near the end of the show, Grande of course performed the two popular singles off “Sweetener.” Seated on her stool on the stage, Grande stunned with “God Is a Woman,” letting her trademark powerhouse voice floor the audience, and picked it up after with “No Tears Left to Cry,” dancing around the stage for the upbeat number.
She closed out the show with another a capella showing, the short “Raindrops” off “Sweetener.” But not without a brief interruption: about 30 seconds into the song, Grande stopped abruptly. “Someone said, ‘Start again, I wasn’t recording.’ And I listened!” she explained to the crowd, picking back up again after confirming with the fan that they were indeed ready.
“American Express x Ariana Grande: The Sweetener Sessions” also stopped in Chicago and New York earlier this week, and Grande will embark on a larger tour next year.