John Labatt Centre, London, Ont. - October 24, 2011

JAMES REANEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:37 AM ET

LONDON, ONT. - It was a night for the truly young and their screams at the John Labatt Centre on Monday.

With 8,500 fans and moms in the house, U.S. teen star Selena Gomez, battling an illness, still displayed poise and energy over about 80 minutes at the downtown London arena.

For thousands of the teen and tween fans, Gomez is a cool big sister with a glitzy wardrobe, songs to scream to, a sincere message of believe in yourself . . . and a famous boyfriend.

Gomez finished her two-song encore Monday with a cover of ELO’s Magic.

Yes, it was magic. A great pop song from a pop princess with thousands of fans experiencing their first live rock band — Gomez’s The Scene — and big confetti shower.

Other magic moments as Gomez owned the night came from images on big video screens of Gomez as a little girl and, as a teen star, offering positive messages.

“Please don’t let anyone tell you you’re not (beautiful),” was a message in Who Says?, a late set hit.

At the start, Gomez rose from a lift in the stage’s second tier. Opening with last year’s hit A Year Without Rain, she was surrounded by The Scene, four dancers and two female backup singers. The singers were in silver, with Gomez in gold.

Yes, there were screams — even if the pop star boyfriend who pulled the biggest screams in arena history wasn’t around to help raise the roof.

Gomez has world-wide celeb status as girlfriend of Stratford teen superstar Justin Bieber. The official word at the JLC was commitments elsewhere prevented Bieber from joining her at Monday’s concert. The teen twosome made high-profile appearances around Gomez’s recent concert at Winnipeg.

The buzz about the Biebs may have helped sell about 1,000 tickets on Monday, a venue day-of-show record for a concert.

Maybe Gomez didn’t need the boost. Like Bieber, she shows an ability to command a crowd well beyond her career years.

By the half-hour mark, Gomez had strutted her way, gown and all, through the tour’s title song — We Own The Night — and her hit single Love You Like a Love Song.

She then descended to screams from the upper tier on stage. It was costume-change time which meant when Gomez came back it was in purple cheerleader-style pants, midriff baring top and an elaborate, flowing scarf.

This didn’t keep her from moving with the dancers through Spotlight to more screams. Later there was a sincere tribute to Britney Spears, the U.S. pop star who inspired the then-11-year-old Gomez who was up in “nosebleed country” for her first-ever concert.

Gomez let her backup singers do most of the heavy lifting during a visit to the Spears songbook.

Unlike Spears, Gomez does not appear to be in any danger of career meltdown.

The official word was Monday’s headliner was battling an illness, possibly a cold. That may have trimmed songs from the tour setlist. Backing tracks were apparent during the show and may have boosted Gomez’s vocals.

Still, she worked her way through it, all the way to her sweet thanks to all the parents in the house for putting up with her.

The parents were far outnumbered by the tiny, tween and teen girls, who loved it all and were in fine voice when it came to the singalongs.

Gomez’s visits to the sides of the stage produced big screams, many from fans who bought those tickets on Monday.

One of many teen actors who have moved into music, Gomez brings her message songs and cheerful attitude to the game.

In the fast burn-out world of teen pop, that may help keep her on track.

Here’s hoping when she returns, Gomez is in perfect health. That would be truly magical.


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