When I mentioned that I was going to Miguel’s show in Miami Beach on Friday night, the most common response was “Oh, I know him. He’s the ‘Sky Walker’ guy.” It’s intriguing to see how quickly a single hit song, released less than a year ago, has defined Miguel’s public perception.
Make no mistake, though—his set was not simply a long lead-up to that single hit. The evening consisted of an impressive opening set by TDE-signed jumpstart artist SiR, followed by a main act that felt surprisingly larger than life. Over the course of his nearly two-hour set, Miguel treated the crowd to R&B that was infused with a wide range of influences, including rock, funk and psychedelia.
And to cut to the chase: Yes, he did play “Sky Walker.” In fact, he closed the show with it. But it wasn’t the most impressive song of the night, as that honor could have gone to any one of the many tunes that worked up the crowd, such as “Waves,” old favorite “Sure Thing,” or main set closer “Pineapple Skies.”
Promoting last year’s War & Leisure, Miguel brought a full live band and a massive stage setup with him, making what could have been an intimate evening with a rising star feel like an event that was too big to be confined within the walls of Miami Beach’s Fillmore. The show, sold out well in advance, was packed to the brim with fans, requiring security inside the venue to put in extra work maintaining walkways and directing fans from the overcrowded floor up to the mezzanines.
The stage setup, which consisted of a platform raised high above the main stage and a long ramp leading up to it, made for excellent sightlines from anywhere within the venue, and gave Miguel plenty of space to strut around and show off his impressive, almost Michael Jackson-esque dance moves. The Los Angeles-born artist even took a moment to address the crowd in Spanish, saying, “this is for those of you who speak Spanish … which I would imagine is a few of you in Miami.”
I have a special respect for artists who choose to tour with a full band when it would be so easy to simply sing over a track. Though Miguel’s voice was clearly the main attraction, and he could have skirted the headache of putting together a group of musicians for his tour, he instead invested in creating an experience, and his deeply talented backing band made sure that each song felt like an event.
It took attending his show for me to realize that soon, Miguel will likely be playing much larger stages than the one he performed on last Friday night in Miami Beach. In 2018, he is one of the most important innovators in R&B music, pushing the limits and showing us the boundless potential of his genre.