In keeping with her new image, Miley Cyrus began her recent pre-tour teleconference with reporters with this greeting: "Yo, yo, yo. ... What's up, ya'll?" But gangsta Cyrus soon settled into talking about her new music, her time on the road and giving back to her fans.
Cyrus' tour started Feb. 14 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and it will stop at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville on April 19 before heading to Europe for the summer.
Cyrus said she's excited to hit the highway. Although some of her latest music from the album Bangerz — Wrecking Ball, We Can't Stop — has been burned into the pop culture psyche, she said she hasn't "been able to see my fans kind of sing along to my songs."
Boarding her tour bus outfitted in so much "Barbie pink it will make a dude puke," she said she's psyched to bring her fans a show that's memorable.
Apparently, her plan is working. Just a few stops in, the tour is getting glowing reviews, with many critics saying the show is full of spectacle but puts its focus on Cyrus' impressive voice.
Reviewing the Vancouver show, Rolling Stone critic Denise Sheppard wrote, "Cyrus delivered fantastic vocals all evening long."
Of the same show, USA Today critic Shawn Conner wrote, "Cyrus has the charisma and maybe the smarts to be the post-Madonna Madonna. She can use her sexuality and mock it; she recognizes talent in others; she might even have that sixth sense of knowing where the culture is going, or where it can be taken. She also seems approachable, on- and offstage, in a way that Madonna never did."
Although she was born and raised around Nashville, Cyrus, 21, has deep roots in Kentucky. Her father is, of course, Flatwoods native Billy Ray Cyrus, and her grandfather was longtime state Rep. Ron Cyrus of Greenup County.
In the telephone conference with reporters, Cyrus called the stage design "sweet" and said her fans are "really going to dig" its artwork by John Kricfalusi of Ren & Stimpy fame. "John K.," as Cyrus calls him, was enlisted to come up with some imaginative animals to fit the overall theme of the tour.
Cyrus, known lately for her lack of clothing, said she is reaching into the couture ranks for her tour costumes. Contemporary designer Marc Jacobs is contributing, she said, and some vintage pieces by Bob Mackie will appear. Cutting-edge designer Jeremy Scott has made contributions.
Cyrus, wearing one of those sparkly costumes, enters the stage by emerging from the mouth of a giant photo of her face and then sliding down a long, inflatable pink tongue.
But along with the spectacular designs and set, Cyrus said, she has paced the show so each performance will feature an extensive acoustic set. The set, she said, is arranged to be flexible, meaning that some nights, if the vibe is good, she might keep singing.
"I can literally play as long as I want," she said, but fans' response will determine how long the acoustic set lasts.
So far, that acoustic set, performed on a small stage at the back of the arena, has featured her covering Dolly Parton's ballad Jolene and a slowed-down version of Outkast's Hey Ya.
Finally, she said, there will be some surprises. Cyrus, who called herself "kind of a hoarder," said, "I'll be giving a lot of junk away, really things to collect" that fans can take home from the arena. "Stuff will be falling from the sky," she said.
Her tour planners tried to talk her out of giving away merchandise that she could potentially sell, she said, but she is doing it for the fans.
"I've already made the money that I need to make," she said. "My priority is making sure that the fans get the show they deserve."
There are two words you will not hear on the tour — "Hannah" and "Montana" — but there will be twerking and a kitty in space.
Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms.