Miguel made St. Paul and the Palace Theatre the latest stop on his War & Leisure Tour. War & Leisure is Miguel’s newest album, released on December 1st, 2017. Miguel brought a couple acts along with him: Nonchalant Savant, Miguel’s brother who is connected to his Art Dealer Chic brand, and SiR, a Top Dawg Entertainment signee who just released his latest album, November, in January of 2018.
I was expecting the crowd in the Palace Theatre to be overwhelmingly female but was pleasantly surprised to see one of the most diverse fan-bases I’ve ever witnessed at a concert. From punk leathers to boat shoes, every combination of dress and style was on display in the audience, which is a testament to how widely appealing Miguel’s music can be.
The first act to hit the stage was Nonchalant Savant. I had never heard of him before this concert but was informed by a couple concertgoers that he is Miguel’s biological brother. His music can best be described as a cross between reggae and R&B.
All alone with bongos and shakers on stage in front of him, Nonchalant Savant eased the audience into the mood with his mellow, echoey sound. If you’re looking for new smoking music, Nonchalant Savant is an artist you’ll enjoy.
Next up was SiR. The Top Dawg Entertainment artist is one of the newest members of the record label that houses talent like Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and SZA. His set was full of downtempo traditional R&B tracks from November.
Backed by keyboardist D Smoke and DJ DK, he showed off a much more polished sound. SiR has the musical chops and range to keep up with an artist like Miguel and his set was a perfect segue from the more raw, hazy sound of Nonchalant Savant.
After SiR hyped up the crowd, the lights went down and the stage was reorganized for the main artist. Drums and a Moog keyboard were planted on the second level of a raised stage, and a ramp was positioned leading diagonally down to the main level where a bassist and guitarist were set up.
The stage was lined with swiveling lights that would move in unison during the show. A screen lit up across in the background, the word ‘Miguel’ in black lettering.
At this point, the audience had filled the lower level of the Palace in anticipation of Miguel’s set. All lights went off and the screen started playing Miguel’s video “Now,” an homage to the city of Adelanto, CA, which is home to the biggest immigrant prison in California. Activists and ex-detainees are interviewed, as Miguel’s lyrics play in the background.
“We are the look of freedom. We are the sound of freedom”
War & Leisure is an album created in an era of unprecedented political divisiveness and Miguel’s plea for us to work together was greeted with cheers and clapping from most of the audience. The last screen we saw before Miguel steps onto the stage explained how a portion of the ticket sales from his tour will go to Adelanto and the activists featured in the video.
The moment Miguel entered on the upper stage, he was greeted with screaming (lots of screaming) and clapping. The band started playing “Criminal,” a guitar and delay-heavy song that features Florida rapper Rick Ross.
Miguel stayed on the upper stage for the first two songs before peeling off a layer of clothing and dancing down to the main stage level while singing “How Many Drinks?” from his 2012 album Kaleidoscope Dream.
Every four songs or so Miguel would stop the music and engage with the audience in short talks about everything from meditation to finding your inner voice and true self. Normally, I am not a fan of skits or breaks in a show, but Miguel’s conversations didn’t seem contrived or forced and they are short enough not to be annoying.
After the talks, the singer changed into a new wardrobe and came back out to play another five-song chunk of his discography.
“Do You…”, “Coffee”, “Waves”, “Pussy Is Mine” and “Adorn” were the biggest hits of the night, with Miguel periodically stopping to let the crowd finish lyrics and sing parts of these songs while he took in the moment with his bandmates.
As soon as Miguel left the stage, there were cries for one more song. Not long after, the entire band filed back out onto the stage. For the encore, they to finished with “Sky Walker,” his biggest hit off War & Leisure, and the audience sang every word and ad-lib, from start to finish.
Miguel’s set seemed to drag on with filler tracks at times, but aside from the length, the concert was impressive visually and musically. Miguel is an amazing performer who knows how to work the crowd and use the stage to keep the audience interested. He is also one of those artists who closely matches his studio sound on stage, which is rare.
Miguel is a unique talent. His music and visuals are meant to inspire and his concert did exactly that. If you get the chance to see him live, please go. Not only is he a phenomenal singer and dancer, but he also seems like a genuinely good guy who cares about people.
I’ll support an artist like that any day.