Miguel's Rock-Star Charisma Heats Up Warehouse Live

Miguel, Dorothy
Warehouse Live
July 26, 2015

That’s it. I can no longer compare Miguel to Prince and neither should you.

Sunday night, as part of the third jaunt from his Wildheart tour, the Los Angeles-based singer looked more like Jim Morrison from the Doors than Prince. Shirtless. Abs glistening. Pants so dangerously low past his pelvis he probably could have ben naked underneath. A ton of women not even dating who would vocally tell the world they’d have children on the spot for him. Some a foot taller than him grinding on him to earn life achievement points. That’s Jim Morrison rock-star shit just by standing in one spot.

Maybe it was the white jacket and matching microphone stand with feathers, or his constant appeal to the ethos of being creative and accepting who you are. Maybe it was the fact he decided to play along to a super-super sold-out crowd at Warehouse Live who literally demanded to give their bodies to him. Whatever the reason, Miguel offered far more moments of psych-rock than wormy, lathery R&B Sunday night.

And nobody argued with it.

They sung the up-tempo funk rolls from Wildheart, from the front of the ballroom all the way past the merchandise table where some folks had camped out just to be in attendance. They understood the groove of “waves,” acted as if they traveled down those same famous streets and boulevards from “Hollywood Dreams” and decided that even Lenny Kravitz at his most simplistic (“face the sun”) was worthy enough.

Why? Because Miguel, that’s why. He may not be the most physically dominating specimen in R&B, but he has serious stage presence. You literally may have to stand on top of someone’s shoulders to catch a glimpse of him (as many did) but once you’re there, you’re stuck with him. You sway along in a coordinated Mary J. Blige dance, you nod and cheer when he makes passionate pleas towards his fan base and to his own heritage of being a mixed-race man in America. He dedicated a segment of the show to those mixed-race fans by posting a collage of their images before performing "what's normal anyway?"

There are records on Wildheart that give his early fans who arrived for “Sure Thing,” “Adorn” and “Quickie” something to sink their teeth into. There’s “the valley,” which is easily his most NSFW and amorous record; or “Coffee,” which helped lead off the encore. His transitions have improved from song to song as well. To let Tupac and Digital Underground’s “I Get Around” run for an entire verse without delving into Roger Troutman’s “Computer Love” is a bold move, yet Miguel and his band harped on the “quickie” aspect and got into his hit-and-run single that burned up radio for a solid year.

Set-wise, if tour opener Dorothy utilized bare-bone aesthetics to get their point and groove across, Miguel took a vastly different approach. There were platforms to jump onto, microphone stands to toy with and a cosmic backdrop that felt like an acid trip with nearly 2,000 people sweating and touching you. It’s all about comfort for Miguel. That stage he had at Toyota Center two years ago was sort of restrictive. All he could do was wiggle and writhe his body a la James Brown. The one at Warehouse Live allowed him something far more rewarding: freedom.

Of note, I’ve been to many a show at Warehouse Live. Never, has it been that filled with estrogen and barely-dressed beautiful women combating both the heat and hormones. Aside from the usual T-shirt and tank-top/poster combinations, the merchandise booth happened to be selling Wildheart condoms, two for $5. After all the sweat worked up by a near two-hour Miguel set, I utterly hope somebody bought them.
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Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell