Cyrus performed at the tailgate show ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday 7 February, bringing out Billy Idol and singing a number of her biggest songs, from “Party in the USA” to “Edge of Midnight”.
However, she seemed to stumble during “Wrecking Ball”, and was forced to stop as she became visibly overwhelmed.
“It never gets easier,” she was heard telling the audience.
She then attempted the rousing chorus but broke off and waited a moment to collect herself, as her band continued to play.
After picking up again and making it through the rest of the song, she explained: “Singing that song, 'Wrecking Ball,' about feeling completely broken and shattered...
“I know that one of the reasons I’ve missed live music so much is seeing all of you out here relating to me, relating to my lyrics… everyone's suffering is different. Everyone’s threshold of pain – I like to think I’ve got a pretty high tolerance.”
She continued: “I wear a lot of glitter and I wear a lot of armour, and I also wear my heart on my sleeve, and it gets broken a lot.”
Earlier, Cyrus sang a rendition of “Angels Like You”, from her latest album Plastic Hearts, which is also believed to be about her relationship with Hemsworth.
She told Rolling Stone in an interview last year: “When you’re telling your side of the story, is it fair? You don’t make songs to hurt somebody, but they do. Songs like ‘Angels Like You,’ it’s not easy for someone to listen to when they know it’s about them. ‘You’re going to wish we never met on the day I leave.’ Music can be a sacrifice.”
She added: “I had some guilt or shame with that song in the way that it’s written, but now that I listen to it, it is actually apologetic. It is saying, ‘It’s not your fault I ruin everything, and it’s not your fault that I can’t be what you need.’ My independence and, I guess, my survivalist instincts make it where I can seem selfish.”
Cyrus closed her Super Bowl tailgate performance with “The Climb”, telling fans that it was a song about “never giving in, never giving up”.
Read our review of Cyrus’s album Plastic Hearts here.