Grieving Miley Cyrus delivers strong show in New Jersey

Miley Cyrus performs at the Air Canada Centre

Miley Cyrus performs at the Air Canada Centre on March 31, 2014, in Toronto. (Credit: Getty Images / George Pimentel)

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Miley Cyrus took the stage at the Izod Center Thursday night by sliding down a giant tongue in the middle of a 50-foot tall picture of her face.

In case there were any doubts about how much the 21-year-old has changed since her last arena tour, she also spit water on her fans, gyrated on a giant bed with 10 of her dancers and encouraged girls to make out with each other. (This was actually a tamer show than usual, as Cyrus shelved some of her banter as she mourned the death of her beloved dog, Floyd, earlier in the week.)

The biggest change, though, is that she sang every song live -- no lip-synching at all. And it's that development, along with her growing bond with her fans, that shows why she will be around long after all the attention-grabbing antics stop generating headlines for her.

The incredibly self-aware Cyrus seems clued into that, making a stripped-down set, where she covered Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and Lana Del Ray's "Summertime Sadness" while tears rolled down her face.

Cyrus apologized profusely for her voice, which she said was giving out from all her crying, but still held up remarkably well, especially during Dolly Parton's "Jolene." She even asked fans to see her another time when she was in a better mindset. "I really do believe in the power of other loving human beings," she said. "Every day it's getting a little bit better."

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