Miguel @ Joe’s Pub, NYC 7/31/2012
As previously discussed in Tom’s Mixtape Of Week week spotlight on Miguel’s recent collection of Art Dealer Chic LPs, media outlets shone bright spotlights on folks like the Weeknd and Frank Ocean while strong, relatively unheralded major label artists like Miguel weren’t really catching much of the residual glare. But, in that inevitable backlash to the popularity of Frank and Abel, Miguel’s name got batted around a bunch, ensuring that his past work (like 2010’s excellent “All I Want Is You“) got some newfound, if belated, attention. Now, Miguel finds a little bit of the spotlight on himself, finally, as prepares his three-part LP, Kaleidoscope Dream. Last night he played a small, but important, label show last night to showcase some of the new (and some of the old) at Joe’s Pub last night. Check out wagz2it‘s photos of the scene up top and head below to read the rest of the recap.
When I worked at Time Out, Miguel came in to film one of the in-office performances that take place in the lobby area. The performance, where Miguel sang unaccompanied and played guitar, was most likely the best one we ever shot, and what really resonated with me was just how professional it was; dude was in and out the door in like, 15 minutes. One take, no problem. Maybe by design, it wasn’t a very flashy performance; if nothing else, Miguel’s performance at Joe’s Pub existed to subvert that notion entirely. Miguel wailed, did splits, danced on tables, and swung his pompadour around in the crowd. He changed into a suit jacket, then into a leather jacket, then no jacket, all to a plangent chorus of swooning “WOOOOOO”s. He channeled Prince, James Brown, and 2Pac, at one point rapping along to “I Get Around” in an homage to his home city. Basically, Miguel knew that this was his moment, or a moment — the event was livestreamed through RCA’s website — and he was aiming to throttle it.
Musically, I’d say he passed with flying colors; he didn’t waste time, starting off with a high-energy rendition of “Strawberry Amazing” before working through big new arrangements like “Candle In The Sun” and “Use Me.” The ribald “Pussy Is Mine” definitely brought out the best in the audience, and he closed with the epic “Adorn.”
The on-stage demeanor, however, could be a little offputting. At one point, he counted the women in the front row (not that the crowd disapproved, I should mention) and sometimes seemed to be playing the character of Don Juan a little too cheekily, or unconvincingly. Not that the performance necessarily suffered for it, because honestly, it didn’t. It just provided a portrait of the singer in the midst of figuring out who he wants to be. For all of the logical touchpoints to Miguel’s sound — Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Hendrix, amongst the previously mentioned Brown and Jackson — he’s still gotta figure out how to be Miguel.
Scope some live videos:
“Candle In The Sun”