PONTIAC, Mich. — "Is there any room out there?" a broadly smiling Nelly Furtado asked as she watched a packed house of 1,400 dancing and swaying on the crowded floor during the encore of her first U.S. tour's kickoff on Tuesday night at Clutch Cargo's in this Detroit suburb. The Canadian songstress was singing "Trynna Finda Way" from her debut album, Whoa, Nelly!, but none of those in attendance had to work too hard to find a way to have a good time; it was part and parcel of the 14-song, 85-minute package Furtado and her five-piece band delivered to them.
The fact that the show was an instant sell-out certainly put some heat on the night. So did the fact that just two nights prior, Furtado had been the story at Canada's Juno Awards, taking home four trophies and then generating more headlines when she was unwittingly closed out from her record company's party at a Toronto restaurant because its capacity had already been exceeded.
There were no such problems on Tuesday; Furtado was welcomed with a loud roar and outstretched arms as she strode onstage following a well-received set by Bliss 66, a melodic rock sextet from nearby Taylor, Mich., whose Glen Ballard-produced debut album comes out on Epic Records during late May.
Dressed in a belly-baring tank top and baggy camouflage-style pants, and sporting large hoop earrings, Furtado was assured, animated, and in fine voice as she soared above the band's taut, rhythmic grooves on "My Love Grows Deeper Part 1" and "I Will Make U Cry," indulging in a bit of call-and-response with the audience on the latter.
"You guys are wicked, wicked!" she exclaimed at a couple of points during the show, which featured all of Whoa, Nelly! as well as the B-side "I Feel You" and "Ordi es Tas," a Portuguese number from the international version of the album. The latter came during a mid-show unplugged set that also featured "Scared of You" and gave Furtado room to stretch her pure, elastic voice. Mostly, however, the show held an upbeat energy, blending catchy pop melodies with kinetic polyrhythmics. Her band returned to finish the show with "Party" (which she dedicated by name to "my first fan in Detroit"); "Turn Off the Light"; her new single, "Shit On the Radio (Remember the Days)"; and the encores "Trynna Finda Way" and her first hit, "I'm Like a Bird."
"You're beautiful, that's for sure," Furtado cooed to the crowd as she ended the show, and there was absolutely no question that the feeling was mutual.