Days after releasing her fourth studio album, “Sweetener,” Ariana Grande had two performances in New York City Monday night. One was on the MTV VMAs stage at Radio City Music Hall in front of a full live audience and millions of viewers watching at home, while the other was an intimate concert at Irving Plaza, which can hold just over 1,000 people.

The latter kicked off Grande and American Express’ The Sweetener Sessions tour, which is a three-date affair that lets Arianators get up-close-and-personal with their favorite singer and vice versa.

“We look to really establish relationships with artists and have them grow, and this was a new way that really that relationship with Ariana grew, in terms of how we're able to connect with our cardmembers, who are obviously really big Ariana fans,” Deb Curtis, Vice President, Head of Global Brand Experiences and Partnerships at American Express, told International Business Times.

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American Express and Ariana Grande present “The Sweetener Sessions” at Irving Plaza on Aug. 20, 2018 in New York City. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for American Express

Big fans, indeed. The concerts sold out in minutes when they went on sale earlier in August. Plus, though doors to the venue opened at 10 p.m. EDT on Monday, many fans camped out at the start of the day to ensure they’d get the best spot in the general admission concert hall. Grande hit the stage around midnight, after getting introductions from her fiancé Pete Davidson and manager Scooter Braun.

What followed was exactly what fans paid around $70 for, which was a unique experience with Grande that would be difficult for them to otherwise have. The “God Is a Woman” singer usually performs in larger venues like Barclays Center, which holds 19,000 people, meaning that no attendee here had a bad view of the stage, comparatively. She spoke directly to the fans, often and enthusiastically, and had them decide which songs off her new album she sang.

“Her album is obviously doing absolutely incredible, with breaking streaming records, and it was really how to bring that out in a way that actually — in a human way that’s connecting with her fans,” Curtis told IBT. “It was also about the intimacy of connecting with that fan in a very different way. To be able to have our cardmembers experience the album pretty much before anyone else in that kind of way. Between the intimacy and being able to then bring that to multiple locations and meet the fans where they are is really what [this was about].”

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Ariana Grande let the crowd sing into the microphone during the American Express and Ariana Grande present “The Sweetener Sessions” event at Irving Plaza on Aug. 20, 2018 in New York City. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for American Express

It truly was an interactive and personal experience between fan and artist, with Grande making her guests feel even closer to her by giving them glimpses of her relationship with Davidson. Before performing “Pete Davidson,” she sweetly walked to the side of the stage and kissed her fiancé in front of the crowd.

The singer performed quite a few songs from “Sweetener,” including the title track, her two singles, “Breathin” and “Raindrops (An Angel Cried).” Her entire set on stage lasted about 50 minutes, and when not listening to her sing, there was a photo station set up for fans to get “Sweetener”-inspired pictures taken. The final two stops on The Sweetener Sessions tour — Chicago on Wednesday and Los Angeles on Saturday — will run similarly.

“You can expect obviously that same level of sort of intimacy and specialness around the size of the venue. Obviously, locations that are so special within their various communities,” Curtis said. “And the time will start earlier. We won’t be following the VMAs. So, that was a very unique situation for New York. And I would expect that really it’s the artist’s platform to decide how she uses that and connects the fans in each one of those venues.”

While all three stops will feature Grande hitting the stage to perform “Sweetener” songs, the setlists might be different depending on what she feels like performing and what the crowd wants. Plus, fans never know who might show up in the crowd, as Karlie Kloss and Madonna stopped to catch the New York show.

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