Ariana Grande has been utterly slaying on her Sweetener World Tour, selling out arenas across the country and impressing the world with debut Coachella headlining set (complete with an *NSYNC reunion that made everyone literally scream). But her latest show on the tour was, understandably, a more sentimental stop. Ariana Grande honored Mac Miller during a performance in his hometown of Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 12.
As most fans know, Grande has a long history with the rapper, dating back to her 2013 debut single, "The Way," which he featured on. The two were in a relationship for nearly two years before splitting up in 2018. Miller died suddenly on Sept. 7, 2018, which understandably devastated the singer, but fueled her to put her emotions into new music. She paid tribute to the late rapper on perhaps her most famous song to date, "Thank U, Next," in which she sings, "Wish I could say, ‘Thank you’ to Malcolm / ‘Cause he was an angel." She's been performing the song on tour, but on Wednesday, she gave an especially emotional delivery.
Grande paid tribute to Miller in multiple ways at her Pittsburgh show. As reported by E! News, the singer left a seat open at the show in honor of the rapper. And before she took the stage, some of Miller’s biggest hits were reportedly blasting through the venue’s speakers as the pre-show soundtrack, a fitting touch for his hometown crowd.
The show ended up being very emotional at times for Grande, and rightfully so. The singer choked up during her opening number, "Raindrops (An Angel Cried)," captured by @ReiningerTrey on Twitter, as the audience could hear her crying from beneath the stage. But being the professional that she is, she rallied and made it through, and still with nearly impeccable vocals at that.
Similarly, toward the end of the concert, Grande got emotional once again while singing "Thank U, Next," choking up and not being able to sing the lyric about Miller. As seen in videos posted on Twitter, the audience members supported her with immense cheers, filling in the song for her loudly until she was able to sing again. Fans in attendance captured the performance, and the recordings definitely make it seem like a powerful and unifying moment of mourning for both Grande and the fans in Pittsburgh.
Grande's tributes to the rapper come at a fitting time. A new track featuring the rapper was released the same day as her show. Miller's first pothumous track, "Time," was recorded with the Free Nationals, best known as Anderson.Paak's band, and singer Kali Uchis in May 2018, just months before his untimely death, according to Rolling Stone, and is the first posthumous release to be approved by Miller's family.
The song is remiscent of Miller's funky style and classic retro flair. “We just need some time / Keep watching, let it all unwind / You get yours, of course, I’ll get mine,” Miller raps over jazzy production and hypnotic grooves. “And in the end, everything will be fine, that’s by design / Well, I don’t trip, but I slip, I fall / Sleep all day, maybe miss your calls / Like I been missing you.” The lyrics are oddly cognizant of today and how much the world misses the rapper. Luckily, fans still have little nuggets like "Time" that we can listen to in his memory.