By NICOLE LOSEK, A&E Editor
An R&B talent that has been slept on since entering the music world hit Royal Oak Music Theatre this weekend and is deserving of some attention.
Miguel stole my heart when he was featured on Mariah Carey’s “#Beautiful” in 2013, but he has been contributing his soulful voice to the R&B world since the release of his debut studio album “All I Want Is You” in 2010. The album was labeled as a “sleeper hit” because it’s initial release flopped, but three weeks after its release it climbed up the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at No. 37.
In 2012, the San Pedro, California native jumped back with his sophomore album “Kaleidoscope Dream,” which did much better than his first. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and the lead single “Adorn” sat at No. 1 on the Hip-hop/R&B Billboard 100.
Miguel’s third studio album dropped back in 2015 titled “Wildheart.” The album charted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. In an interview with MTV, Miguel’s label executive Mark Pitts (RCA Records) describes the artist’s evolution up to this album.
“Miguel is ready to push the button,” he said. “His first album was about trials and tribulations. The second was OK, we’re here; I wasn’t bugging. And now it’s here we go. He wants people to understand who he is. He’s tired of people asking who are you, what’s that, ‘do you like girls?’ He tells me, ‘I want everyone to know I am wild, funny, edgy and love women. I need this album to connect'”.
His evolution continued with the success of his fourth studio album that was released in December of 2017, “War & Leisure.” The album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Billboard R&B/Hip-hop charts with its first week sales.
“War & Leisure” was the first full project I heard from Miguel. He released the first single from the album “Come Through and Chill” in June. On the actual album, the track features J. Cole and was one of the songs on loop in my headphones once the album dropped.
The lead single “Sky Walker,” featuring Travis Scott, was the first song that caught my attention with its catchy/fun tune and lyrics. “Pineapple Skies” and “Told You So” were the other promotional singles that were some of my favorite songs from the album.
“Criminal” is the opening track that eases your ears with “Got a mind full of TNT/need a lounatic just like me” in his calming voice. The track also features Rick Ross’ harsh vocals, and was a good addition to this track about a dangerous love. Another song that is a must listen off of this project is “Banana Clip.” He sings soulfully on his love for his girl and how he would do anything for her.
This past Friday, Miguel stopped at Royal Oak Music Theatre on his War & Leisure Tour and I had the chance to hear some of these songs live.
“Now” was the opening song of the show and was played with a powerful video about immigration in America. The video streamed over the screen on stage and Miguel rose up from the bottom of the stage towards the middle of the song to finish it off live.
I’ve been to many concerts over the past few years, most of them being either pop or hip-hop of artists where I knew a majority of their songs. This was the first time I went to a concert solely off of liking one album and it also my first R&B concert. The vibe was different than previous concerts that I have attended. The energy was more relaxed and the crowd seemed genuinely happy and excited to be there instead of going just to go.
That being said, most of the crowd seemed to know just about every word of every song. New and old, they were singing along. He threw it back with songs like “Sure Thing” and “Simple Things” after the opening song. Towards the end of the setlist he played “Waves” and “Coffee,” both songs that I listened to leading up to the concert when I jumped on the Miguel bandwagon. The energy changed with these tracks as fans jumped with excitement for these sentimental throwbacks.
Each song he performed from “War & Leisure” made me a bigger fan. He melted my heart with “Criminal” and “Anointed,” and even though he cut J. Cole’s verse from “Come Through and Chill,” it was still beautiful to hear live.
Not being a huge fan, I have never seen much about Miguel performing live, but if he’s anything like he was on Friday I would say he is a talented performer. The energy he brought on stage with him and shared with the crowd was unlike any other artist I have seen. It was a different kind of high energy show in a more intimate, engaged way. His body language and movements had my eyes glued to the stage as I tried to peek my head in between the towering fans in front of me. He sang his soul out and left his heart on the stage with every song. This was a concert I impulsively bought a ticket to and I’m happy I did. Seeing Miguel perform live has lead me to listening to his older albums while still vibing with his new one.
That being said, I think when we see artists live we tend to become bigger fans than before. This happened to me with Mac Miller a few years ago and it has happened now after seeing Miguel.