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Olivia Rodrigo performs at Bridgestone Arena on March 9 in Nashville, Tennessee.Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Cast a desire under the crescent moon as stars cross its path, they say, and one’s wish is sure to come true. All those ecstatic girls in the audience at the first of two Olivia Rodrigo concerts at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Friday – a penny for their thoughts as the pop star hovered above them.

The 21-year-old Californian singer indeed sat on a floating crescent moon among stars that had dropped from the rafters, as she offered a pair of heartbroken-but-I’m-better-off burners.

“The sky is green, the grass is red, and you mean all those words you said,” she sang on the ballad, logical, lyrically typical of her pensive woundedness and sarcastic angst. (Her sarcasm is not flippant – she means every word of it.)

If the crowd below didn’t hang on every cathartic, diaristic word, it is only because they were often busy singing the lyrics right along with her. This was more than fandom; this was the excitable, adoring teenaged swoon of the “I can’t even” nation.

Rodrigo went from Disney actor to relatable stream-queen singer-songwriter in 2021 upon the release of her debut coming-of-age album, SOUR, and the breakthrough weeper, drivers license. Three years (and three Grammy Awards) later, she plays arenas on a world tour in support of her sophomore record, GUTS.

The SOUR album art had Rodrigo in a sulking pose, tongue out. Now comes GUTS, from a determined, emotive artist who says she has evolved.

“This album encapsulates growing up and figuring yourself out in the world, and the awkwardness of that,” she recently told Rolling Stone magazine. “I feel myself growing leaps and bounds.”

On stage, Rodrigo is consummate and engaging, with preternatural moxie, and an actor’s animation and facial expressions. Her voice capably conveys the emotions as required.

With her all-female band, backup singers and team of eight dancers, she poured her heart out on down-tempo numbers. Elsewhere, on the infectious pop-punk uproar, she rocked with confidence and esprit. One doesn’t need to be Galileo to spot her as a star.

Her eyelids were bedazzled, and her body was aglitter in a silver two-piece and fishnet stockings initially. (Costume changes were to come.) Rodrigo asked fans to jump, scream and “feel all your feelings.” She worked for it and got it all.

Ballad of a homeschooled girl, seemingly autobiographical, mixed a slinky indie-rock vamp on the verses with a catchy, shouty chorus about adolescent awkwardness: “Each time I step outside, it’s social suicide.”

The winning drama of vampire suggested Rodrigo had studied songwriting under Lana Del Rey and acting under Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza.

On her previous theatre tour, Rodrigo’s set list included a cover of Avril Lavigne’s Complicated. At Toronto’s Massey Hall, the two of them even performed it together. Their onstage hug could have been seen as a sweet, respectful passing of a torch. For Rodrigo’s current arena tour, which stopped in Montreal and has a Vancouver concert this summer to come, there are no cover songs.

Though Canada’s Lavigne was once hailed a punk-pop princess, she was never really believable as a punk. Rodrigo, on the other hand, ended her main set at Scotiabank (before a confetti-strewn two-song encore) with all-american bitch. It doesn’t matter if she is that, just that she act like one. That she does it with aplomb puts her over the top.

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