The 20 superstar acts and their many musical styles that converged at the iHeart Radio Music Festival on Friday and Saturday defy a quick description. But here’s one word that works: overwhelming.
From No Doubt’s flashy opening on Friday (featuring a drop-in by Pink for “Just a Girl”) to Pitbull’s bounding closing set Saturday (featuring a drop-in by Ne-Yo for “Give Me Everything”), the event was a conveyor belt of inspired performances. Upon the show’s second run through MGM Grand Garden Arena, we tick off a few favorite moments.
The unveiling of Prince: Mary J. Blige pulled off the event’s biggest surprise, as a psychedelically clad Prince played lead guitar on “Sweet Thing” and joined her for a duet of “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
The misadventures of Billie Joe Armstrong: The Green Day frontman ranted with such dexterity, he managed to profanely disparage Justin Bieber and Clear Channel officials almost in the same sentence. He smashed his guitar, threw the mic over his shoulder and skulked off. Sunday morning, a band rep announced Armstrong was off to rehab.
The aerial artistry of Pink: After her appearance with Gwen Stefani on Friday, Pink managed to stun the crowd anew with a Cirque-like performance high over the audience for “So What,” fastened into a cable-and-harness rig as the crowd rejoiced.
The shtick of Brad Paisley: With Armstrong’s rant still ringing through the arena, Paisley glared into a monitor in the middle of the arena and shouted, “One more minute? What?! Oh, wait—it says 11 minutes. Sorry. Don’t make me open up a can o’ country whoop ass up here.”
The makeover of Taylor Swift: Wearing a shimmering gold top and black shorts to show off her long legs, Swift and her backing dancers sashayed through her current single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” She also pulled on a wide-brimmed black hat for an Amish-meets-country vibe. Always the polite performer, Swift asked, “Is it okay if I play my banjo?” before plucking her way through “Mean.”
The intonations of Flavor Flav: Caught backstage was the following commentary by the clock-bearing, pop-culture icon as he happened upon Stefani: “Yo! I see you. You look like Miley Cyrus! I see Miley and I tell her she look like Gwen! So now, you Miley, too!”