Many students took a break from their studies Tuesday night to see Noah Cyrus, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter and younger sister of pop star Miley Cyrus. The Jefferson Theater filled with townies and students alike, all there to see Cyrus on tour for her debut studio album, “The Hardest Part”, which she released in 2022.
This leg of the tour is the second in North America for Cyrus, who toured “The Hardest Part” across the United States and Canada last fall before taking a break. She announced her excitement for this revival on Instagram June 6, saying that the happiest she had been since the album’s release was “performing it night after night and being on the road with [her] band.” The tour is more than halfway over and scheduled to conclude Oct. 1 in Columbia, Mo.
The Cyruses are no strangers to the Hollywood spotlight. Sister Miley Cyrus and Father Billy Ray Cyrus, both of whom she has collaborated with on some of her songs, are big names across pop and country music stages.
Cyrus herself became involved in music and film at a very young age, starring as the voice of the title character in the English dubbed version of “Ponyo” when she was just eight years old. Cyrus released her debut single “Make Me (Cry)” with Labrinth when she was just 16 years old. She was also nominated for Best New Artist at the 2021 Grammy’s.
Cyrus’s opener Anna Bates, a folk singer from Los Angeles, laid down the vibe of the evening with a few personally written songs. She sang and played guitar alongside her boyfriend, Van Andrew Berkemeyer, with whom she often writes music.
Cyrus made an impactful entrance to the stage, opening her setlist with the first track of the album, entitled “Noah (Stand Still).” The singer began to choke up through her first few personal lines, singing “When I turned 20, I was overcome / with the thought that I might not turn 21.” The emotional opening drew the audience in with the soft whisper of Cyrus’s lyrics. Showing the true versatility of her voice, by the end of the first song, Cyrus was belting out powerful notes.
After her first few songs, Cyrus addressed the audience by introducing herself, her opening act and her gratitude for being on tour. She mentioned how she walked around Grounds the day before and that everyone was extremely kind toward her. The audience welcomed Cyrus with open arms and cheered loudly at her mention of the University.
Cyrus’s setlist presented a blend of styles — from folksy country influence to more EDM and upbeat pop. The set list had an ebb and flow, contrasting slower ballads with upbeat dance tunes. Soulful belted choruses of “Unfinished” presented a balance to punchy drums and chords on “I Just Want a Lover.” The setlist showcased Cyrus’s wide range of stylistic strengths and her unique, forward tone that cuts through the auditorium no matter the type of song.
Most of the set consisted of tracks off her record “The Hardest Part,” though she incorporated some earlier releases from “THE END OF EVERYTHING,” including a fan favorite — “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus.” In her rendition of “Again,” she paid tribute to the memory of late rapper and friend XXXTENTACION, who was originally featured on the song. Cyrus put her arms above her head crossed in an X in his memory, to which many members of the audience followed.
In the latter half of her set, Cyrus brought out a few more emotional pieces, including the first single she released off of “The Hardest Part” — “I Burned LA Down” — an emotional power ballad about her relationship with both love and Los Angeles, her home. She followed this powerful piece with a mellow bluegrass tune — “Loretta’s Song” — which Cyrus wrote about her grandmother. In this touching piece, she called out to the audience, “I know you’re hurting, / but it’s not the end.”
One highlight of the concert came near the end, as Cyrus gave an unexpected twist on perhaps her most recognizable song. She turned “July” — an originally slow, acoustic and emotional piece which Billboard critics rank as her best song — into an energy-filled uptempo track. Cyrus’s fans seemed to agree with the critics. The crowd jumped and sang along to this exciting new rendition of an old favorite.
She concluded with the title song of her tour, “Hardest Part,” to which she fades out repeating the words “is over.” She then said goodbye to her Charlottesville audience. The crowd cheered, stomped and chanted for an encore for over a minute before Cyrus and her band returned for three more songs — “Lonely,” “Make Me (Cry)” and “The End of Everything,” bringing an apt close to the night.
From chaos to love to fiery beginnings, painful endings and everything in between, Noah Cyrus delivered emotion and power through every melodic punch, lighting up the hearts of the Jefferson Theater on an otherwise mellow Tuesday evening.
Cyrus’ “The Hardest Part” is available on all streaming platforms now, and “The Hardest Part” tour dates will continue for the rest of the month across the United States.