Demi Lovato has so much going for her.
She's found sizable success on TV, starring in the Disney Channel's "Camp Rock" and "Sonny With a Chance" as well as appearing as a judge on "The X Factor." She's also released several hit singles and albums. Most impressive of all, the 21-year-old multimedia star has nurtured a massive fan base, which includes her nearly 21 million followers on Twitter.
Unfortunately, her ability in the live arena isn't nearly as impressive as the rest of her résumé. Her concert on Tuesday at the SAP Center in San Jose was just so-so, and just barely interesting enough to keep one's attention.
It was like watching a rerun of a show we've already seen too many times before. The cliche-ridden outing was full of lightweight rock, ho-hum pop and empty ballads, a combo that also stands as a succinct summary of Lovato's recording catalog.
Certainly, Lovato isn't the only Disney-reared act to specialize in such middle-of-the-road material. Some of these artists are able to rise above their songbook onstage -- either through sheer charisma, well-executed theatrics or other means -- but not Lovato. She couldn't seem to add anything to the equation, which translated to a live show that was every bit as average as the source material.
Opening the show with a less-than-arresting "Heart Attack," the smash hit from last year's "Demi" album, the star was mediocre at nearly every turn. She was marginally convincing with the anthems of empowerment, like "Warriors," and a little better with such dance-floor numbers as "Unbroken." She often seemed to be operating on cruise control, failing to accelerate when the moment called for it. The result was some rather tepid numbers -- such as "Got Dynamite," which was possibly the least explosive rocker I'll hear all year.
Lovato's known for having a powerful voice, yet she rarely went for broke on this evening. In all, her vocals didn't come across nearly as strong onstage as they have in the studio.
Of course, it didn't help matters that she seemed to shrink under the bright lights. She might be an A-list celebrity, but her star power definitely doesn't translate in an arena setting. Also, the stage production itself was lackluster. There were some nice bells and whistles, such as the laser-light show, but they aren't well-utilized by the designers of this Neon Lights Tour.
There were, however, a few highlights. The biggest thrill came when Lovato unleashed "Let It Go," the Academy Award-nominated song from the blockbuster animated film "Frozen." It's a great tune, especially in comparison to the rest of the set list, but I'd much rather hear Idina Menzel sing it. (Menzel sings the song in the movie, but Lovato also recorded a version of it.) Also, the 10,000-plus crowd was superb, cheering loudly throughout the night. Lovato's strong personality and her overcoming several personal problems in recent years has no doubt won her an ardent following.
The audience also gave its nod of approval to opening act Little Mix -- and the group certainly deserved it. The all-female vocal quartet was sensational, coming across like a junior version of the Spice Girls. The four women -- Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall -- blend their voices beautifully. We should be hearing more of them in the months to come.
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.