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Sunday, July 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Music

Khalid’s effortless talent, strong dancers and visuals carry Spokane Arena show

UPDATED: Thu., July 11, 2019, 2:59 p.m.

R&B artist Khalid performs at the Spokane Arena during his “Free Spirit” world Tour on Tuesday. The 21-year-old artist won the 2018 iHeartRadio R&B Album of the Year award for his album “American Teen” and has been nominated for five Grammy Awards. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
R&B artist Khalid performs at the Spokane Arena during his “Free Spirit” world Tour on Tuesday. The 21-year-old artist won the 2018 iHeartRadio R&B Album of the Year award for his album “American Teen” and has been nominated for five Grammy Awards. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

Before performing “Saved” at the Spokane Arena on Tuesday, R&B singer Khalid addressed the crowd.

“Who’s been rocking with me since 2017?” he asked.

After a chorus of cheers and applause from the audience, Khalid played the tune, from his debut album “American Teen.”

It was certainly unintentional, but that question was a reminder to fans that in just two years, Khalid has gone from releasing his debut single, “Location,” to headlining his own arena tour.

In fact, the “Free Spirit” tour isn’t Khalid’s first headlining tour. It’s his fourth.

The 21-year-old singer’s rise has been truly meteoric.

In just two years, he’s released two albums, most recently “Free Spirit” in April, an EP, 2018’s “Suncity,” and earned five Grammy nominations, including best new artist, best urban contemporary album (“American Teen”) and best R&B song (“Location”), as well as a slew of other awards and nominations.

Two albums and an EP may not seem like enough material for an arena tour, but Khalid was quick to show otherwise.

The evening started with an audio clip of Khalid talking about what the term “free spirit” means to him.

“To me, a free spirit can be a lot of things… Free spirit to me is a dream, but a dream you can accomplish.”

On that note, Khalid stepped on stage and right into the title track from “Free Spirit,” which eventually became “8teen” with hardly a breath in between.

Khalid’s backup dancers made their first of many appearances before the next song, “Twenty One,” from “Free Spirit.”

Whether they performed as a group, in pairs or solo, the talented dancers brought a lot of energy to the evening, helping to hype up the crowd and encourage Khalid to bust a move or two of his own.

A slew of tunes – “Saved,” “My Bad” and “Bad Luck” – followed before Khalid addressed the crowd again by way of introducing “Bluffin’.”

“The next song is one of my favorites off ‘Free Spirit’,” he said. “Hopefully you know it. If not, it’s alright, just vibe with it.”

Over the course of his short career, Khalid has collaborated with a number of hitmakers, including Normani, John Mayer and Billie Eilish.

Though he didn’t bring out any special guests (opener Clairo danced onstage during “Young Dumb and Broke” near the end of the show), Khalid performed some of those collabs anyway, including “Silence,” which he recorded with Marshmello, “Eastside,” which features Halsey and Benny Blanco, and “OTW,” which he recorded with Ty Dolla Sign and 6lack.

Khalid is a fan of performing songs back-to-back-to back, with little to no stage banter in between, like he did with “Location,” “Silence,” and “American Teen” and, near the end of the show, “Talk,” “Outta My Head,” “Young, Dumb and Broke,” “Eastside,” “OTW” and show closer “Saturday Night.”

The most we heard from Khalid, in fact, came during a video played after “Another Sad Love Song.”

“I feel like I had so much to say then,” Khalid said about making “American Teen.” “But I feel like I have even more to say now.”

It would have been fun to hear more from Khalid on stage, but the video and audio clips were well-placed, and his dancers and the lights and visuals helped make the evening feel like a party.

And throughout the night, Khalid, an effortlessly talented singer, did what he does best: sharing personal yet relatable songs with those who have been rocking with him from the very beginning.

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