Miguel turns Commodore crowd into jelly

Miguel_wildheart_CD.0.0Opening acts are in a tough position. They have to juggle a few tasks all at once. While they are onstage, the opener needs to get the crowd to pay attention to something other than their smartphones, create a base level of energy for the audience to respond to, and persuade the crowd that they the performers are worthy of the opening slot.

Dorothy doesn’t have to worry about any of that. Thunderous guitars and drums, expertly punctuated with lead singer Dorothy Martin’s powerhouse vocals, seized everyone’s attention the instant the band took the stage. Their “classic” hard rock sound can easily be compared to Black Sabbath, but Dorothy’s tracks are a bit more polished. Not to say there isn’t grittiness to the band’s sound, but Dorothy’s music doesn’t make you feel like there’s been an assault on your senses (which can often be the case when you listen to an entire Black Sabbath album). While their thirty-minute set was loud, brash, and a force to be reckoned with, it was a nice change to have them rein it in for a slower track that revealed Martin’s vocal range. Sure, belting it out over some sweet metal riffs is a ridiculous good time, but having the chance to hear what her voice sounds like, when paired with only one guitar, was remarkable. If the audience wasn’t sure who Dorothy was before this show, they definitely know now.

To keep the high energy going, Miguel’s DJ came out and peppered the crowd with a few tracks that, while loud and bass-driven, were not particularly noteworthy. I’m not even sure it had anything to do with her set; the crowd may have just been ready to see Miguel. And boy, did they demonstrate how ready they were when he took the stage shortly after. The second – the literal second – his foot came into view, the mostly female crowd lost their minds. Dressed in tight white jeans and a white leather jacket, Miguel glided effortlessly towards the microphone, looking very angelic due to the tassels streaming from his arms. Now, let’s get for realsingtons here: Miguel is pretty much the embodiment of every woman’s, or man’s, sexual fantasy, whether they admit it or not. So this man slowly making his way across the stage pretty much turned everyone in the room into jelly.

Although Miguel is an eclectic artist, you often hear people trying to pin down what his “sound” is, and that’s rather difficult to do. Miguel is a musician who seems to try incorporating whatever sound he feels would make a particular song great – not just good, but great. He is rock, R&B, funk, electronic, soul, and pop. And if he thought a pedal steel would make a song better, he’d probably use it. And this is what makes Miguel so alluring. Yes, yes, having him seductively lower his jeans to expose more flesh and more chiseled abs onstage is wonderful, but that’s not why people like him. They like him because with every album he releases, his music only gets better.

His debut album, All I Want is You (2010), could easily be described as having a more “R&B” sound, especially due to the strong single “Sure Thing”. But even that track resembles a classic Prince song rather than, say, one by Usher. By the time Kaleidoscope Dreams (2012) came out, Miguel had evolved past his debut album’s successful musical stylings and was developing a sound that can only be described as his own. Miguel may have musical influences, but his sound is nothing but his, and maybe that’s what makes him a bit frustrating: Miguel denies our natural desire to make comparisons so that we have a reference point with which to measure an individual’s skill or talent. Not only with each album, but with each individual song, Miguel makes it impossible to define who he is or what he is as a musician, artist, and individual. And because of that, he’s even more compelling as a performer.

While I loved seeing him in a smaller venue, I kind of want to flash forward to when Miguel sells out arenas. Not only will his music have evolved even further, but his stage show is going to be insane! Miguel can really put on a show with the simplest things. For a few songs, he stood atop an elevated stage, with a fan blowing on him while wearing an even more tasseled leather jacket and used not only his irresistible sexual presence but also his soothing and sultry vocals to coo the audience into submission. This, of course, made it impossible to take our eyes off of him. It helps that styling is one of Miguel’s (many) strong points. From the top of his head to tip of his toes, Miguel is fashionable. Mark my words: when he’s booked in larger venues and has an obscene costume budget, I guarantee that will be the concert tour of the year.