by Eric Tullis
Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh
Wednesday, Oct. 10
It's never fun to be a concertgoer among stuffy rookies who don't see a live show as an opportunity for a party: They complain if you bump into them, step on their shoes or express any amount of excitement that threatens their personal space. You'd expect that level of conservatism at an orchestra appearance, not an R&B show—especially not one headlined by pop music's newest sensation, Miguel.
The release of his most recent album—Kaleidoscope Dream, an 11-song, deluxe love masterpiece—has placed the 25-year-old singer among R&B's elite. In a somewhat stuffy room, though, his Wednesday night performance at Lincoln Theatre couldn't have been any more impressive. Miguel is a superstar and an embodiment of Hollywood, a place not far from his California hometown.
But, as he acknowledged on stage, he was in Raleighwood Wednesday and energized by a room full of screaming females. Miguel baited with almost 10 minutes of silence from the stage before he strolled out in a single-breasted suit, thick sunglasses and a tight-fluff hairdo, like a modern Jackie Wilson. Couples showed up hand-in-hand, but for men and women alike, Miguel provided enough of a sweet, machismo-filled distraction for them to lose each other and aim their adoration toward pop music's new wonderkid.
These small-room shows certainly work better for Miguel's showmanship than in a huge place like Greensboro Coliseum, where he opened for Jay-Z back in 2010. "Pussy Is Mine," for instance, couldn't have had the same effect in an arena as it did on Wednesday night. And, yes, Miguel, pussy was yours: It belonged to Miguel even if it already had an owner. It belonged to Miguel even if the Gynecology God was its guardian. Hell, my pussy belonged to Miguel, and I don't even have one. The guy standing next to me yelled in my ear "Don't look him in the eyes," a reference to Dave Chapelle's joke about how any straight man's sexual preference could be compromised by staring into Prince's eyes. Touché.
Miguel's lust affair continued with "Quickie" and "Use Me." Still, even in less sensual spots like the rock jam "The Thrill," Miguel shimmied and shook on stage, exhibiting more of what it takes to be the lead man in a band, not just a primetime seducer. When he does both, like he did with "Gravity" from the Art Dealer Chic Vol.1 EP, Miguel was unstoppable. Before he closed with his latest single, "Adorn," he tried to play down all of the loud, worshiping screams: "I'm not that interesting … I need y'all to shut the fuck up," he said, so that he could sneak in the think-piece number from the end of Kaleidoscope Dream, "Candles in the Sun."
Miguel is that interesting. He knows it. He also knows that, right now, he's carrying a soul genre on his back with every stealth glare, every spin move, every smile and every mic-stand trick. It will be interesting to see how many hearts he can pocket along the way.