The 2016 Byblos International Festival closed Tuesday night to a capacity crowd of over 8,000 enthusiastic revelers, eager to watch the Lebanon debut performance of Sia, the Phoenician leg of her “Nostalgic for The Present” world tour. Arriving moments before showtime in a black SUV with her management team and dancers, the Australian singer-songwriter was greeted by thousands of screaming fans of all ages.
Superseding the open-air venue’s 5,000-person capacity, the stage and seating areas were expanded and reinforced over the weekend to withstand the show.
“In the program, we like to bring contemporary acts,” Byblos Festival president Latifa Lakiss, told The Daily Star. “In [such] contemporary acts, there is a tendency for a more widespread reaction from all ages ... So we had to create a bigger space, particularly for those standing, for this concert.
“There is always something special about the [festival],” Lakiss went on to say, especially the diversity of the kinds of performances we have covers all cultures, and inviting to all ages ... In comparison to the general situation in the region, we are very happy with this year’s turnout.”
Sia’s 60-minute set staged a colorful selection of singer-songwriter’s greatest hits, drawing particularly on her 2015 album “This Is Acting.”
She started the show with her 2016 hit, “Alive,” “Diamonds,” the 2012 hit Sia penned for Rihanna, her own 2005 hit “Breathe Me,” and wrapped with her 2015 Billboard chart-topper, “Chandelier.”
The minimalist set design featured a white screen upon which rain showers, cage bars, colored spotlights and video montages were projected. Dressed in white, with a white big white bow atop her head, Sia stood still before the backdrop.
Though Sia was stationary, it was a dynamic show, with the vocalist accompanied on stage by some of the dancers who’ve appeared in her videos over the last year – Stephanie Mincone, Floris Bosveld, Nicholas Lanzisera and Rocker Wyatt.
While the dancers underwent multiple wardrobe changes throughout the show, the music videos’ famous flesh-colored body suits were ever-present. Confetti, a desk, chairs, and larger-than-life animated hands on Nicholas Lanzisera’s shoulders also played a role in the show.
Born Sia Kate Isobelle Furler in Adelaide, Australia in 1975, Sia has cultivated a name for herself as a multiplatinum-selling singer-songwriter. She first gained fame after moving to London in 1997, working as a backing vocalist for Jamiroquai, and later backing U.K. duo Zero 7.
Sia went on to compose for some of showbiz’s biggest names, including Beyonce’s 2014 record “Pretty Hurts.” With Christina Aguilera she co-wrote the 2009 album “Bionic.” Over the years she’s penned a bouquet of singles for other artists – including Rita Ora’s 2012 hit “Radioactive,” NeYo’s “Let Me Love You” also from 2012, Britney Spears’ “Perfume” from 2013 as well as the 2014 World Cup anthem “We Are One,” performed by Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte.
She released her first solo record in 2001, and topped the charts as a vocalist in 2011 on David Guetta’s single “Titanium.” Following her 2012 breakthrough album, “1000 Forms of Fear,” Sia rose to the top of the charts with such singles such as “Big Girls Cry” and “Eye of the Needle.” She charted again with 2013’s “Elastic Heart,” from soundtrack for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” featuring The Weekend and Diplo.
Sia’s onstage presence is ever-evolving. She enjoys taking creative and logistical control over her brand, identity and personal life. Introducing her now-famous bow-and-bob cut in 2012, her famous on- and off-stage counterpart Maddie Ziegler now also sports the look in Sia’s shows and videos. The hairdo has since evolved into a split blond and black-haired bob cut wig with an assortment of colored bows.
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The Byblos performance – including the footage projected on the stage-flanking screens – was a near re-enactment of the performer’s music videos. Reflecting Sia’s affinity with dance, it was her dancers who took center stage throughout the show, while the songstress herself remained upstage right.
Thanking the crowd multiple times, and gushing at her surprise at how well they knew her lyrics, Sia belted out one song after the other, occasionally giggling at her audience’s enthusiastic support.
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