President Donald Trump isn’t the only colossus personality making a big splash in downtown Minneapolis this week.
“Truth Hurts” hitmaker Lizzo showed her true star power Wednesday night at her first of two sold-out concerts at the Armory. Not since Prince’s 1984 Purple Rain Tour finale in St. Paul has the return of a locally rooted musician sparked so much excitement, pride and inflated ticket-brokering.
Five years ago, you may have caught the 31-year-old singer, rapper, dancer and now film star hosting a trivia night at the Nomad pub or singing backup vocals at First Avenue. She returned to her former hometown with the No. 1 song in the country and one of the hottest concert tickets of the year.
All 16,000-plus tickets to Lizzo’s Armory shows (the second one is Friday) sold out in hours and commanded more than five times their original $30-$50 prices on resale sites.
Fans who lined up hours early Wednesday lit up when talking about the real-life Melissa Jefferson’s messages of self-love and body positivity.
“It’s refreshing seeing someone in the mainstream media who doesn’t have the ideal body type for a pop star but exudes so much confidence and love for herself and others,” raved Shaaira Musawwir of Minneapolis, one of the first to line up. “She’s unapologetic about who she is.”
Another early arrival, Michaela Bradshaw, 20, of Woodbury, was unapologetic about paying $460 for two resold tickets to the show.
“She’s worked so hard to get where she is and deserves it more than anyone,” Bradshaw said. “She stands for empowered women, for the LGBTQ community and really anyone who feels like an outcast. We need more like her.”
As she prepped for her opening set, Lizzo’s Minneapolis-based DJ and longtime co-vocalist Sophia Eris felt the love outside the Armory.
“It feels like we’re making a triumphant return,” she said. “It’s definitely an emotional night, because this city has seen how far she’s come. To come back and have two shows in the largest venue we’ve ever played here feels incredible.”
‘Truth’ hits home
A lot has happened since Lizzo’s last full local gig at the Palace Theatre in May. Namely, her Vikings-name-dropping single “Truth Hurts” landed atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for six weeks and counting, the longest-running No. 1 single ever by a solo female rapper.
The bad-men-bashing feminist anthem has been featured everywhere from MLB playoff telecasts to Michelle and Barack Obama’s summer playlist to Hillary Clinton’s Twitter feed, where she quoted the opening line: “I just took a DNA test / Turns out, I’m 100 percent that [expletive].”
When “Truth Hurts” arrived near show’s end Wednesday, it sounded like all 8,300 attendees were singing along at top volume. But they loudly accompanied her throughout the 85-minute set, starting when she strutted to the front of the stage in an Egyptian goddess-like gold-lamé wrap, fully living up to the worshipfulness in her song “Worship.”
“There are so many of y’all,” she marveled after her dance romp “Boys” earned particularly rapturous applause and — she claimed — healed her of the wear and tear of her arduous schedule of late.
“You have healed me; it’s like I purified myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka,” she cracked, a nod to her early supporter Prince.
As Lizzo’s former collaborators and supporters in the Twin Cities clamored for another chance to see her live — the Armory’s guest list was probably as inflated as that giant butt-shaped balloon she famously brought to the MTV Video Music Awards in August — they were in 100% agreement that her success has come as no surprise.
“I mean, she’s a boss woman, no doubt,” said Shannon Blowtorch, a DJ and beatmaker who worked with Lizzo in her old Minneapolis-based group Grrrl Prty.
“She’s always been a good businesswoman and a super-hard worker. She’s been doing this for a while, but now that she’s gotten the kind of exposure she has, it’s only going to keep growing.”
Andrea Swensson of 89.3 the Current, who first put Lizzo’s music on the air back in 2012 when she performed locally in the Chalice, said, “It’s been surreal to watch her go from developing her voice locally to becoming this shining star globally.”
Since Lizzo spent six formative years in Minneapolis, Swensson strongly believes Minnesota can still claim her as one of its own, even though she was raised in Detroit and Houston and moved to Los Angeles two years ago to begin working on this year’s gold-certified album “Cuz I Love You.”
“She was so active in the scene when she lived here, I think it’ll always be a special place on her timeline,” Swensson said.
Eris agreed: “This city still means a lot to her.”
Following closely on the high heels of Lizzo’s big-screen debut in the hit Jennifer Lopez movie “Hustlers,” the Minneapolis concerts were squeezed in between her appearances in front of 75,000 fans at both weekends of the Austin City Limits festival in Austin, Texas.
And Lizzo’s breakout year is not over yet.
Other career high-water marks she’s sure to hit in the coming weeks include Grammy nominations for best new artist and maybe record of the year and a slot on “Saturday Night Live.”
“She has the talent and the intelligence to take this as far as she wants,” said Jacob Mobley, another Minneapolis fan who lined up early Wednesday. “I really think there’s no stopping her now.”
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 Twitter: @ChrisRstrib