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Miguel Bares His Individual Spirit at the Space at Westbury

August 10th, 2015

Miguel – the Space at Westbury – August 7, 2015

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In a recent short documentary produced by Yours Truly, R&B superstar Miguel revealed his struggles as a young artist navigating the music industry. He spoke about his material being shelved early on in his career because folks just weren’t ready for his sound as the ebb and flow of popular music tastes fluctuated. How times have changed—and the proud L.A. singer released his third album, Wildheart, in late June to universal acclaim. After sold-out shows at Terminal 5 and The Bowery Ballroom, Miguel headed to his last New York stop, out in Long Island at the Space at Westbury on Friday night.

As Kanye West’s “All Day Nigga” played, the lights dipped low, members of Miguel’s band, all in white, filed in, and the man of the evening topped off the lineup in a white leather jacket with feather-fringed sleeves. Although “A Beautiful Exit” intro’d the set, the song would return throughout the evening as a transitional interlude. The band kicked up the tempo with Kaleidoscope Dream’s “The Thrill,”  and Miguel’s gyrating on old fave “Sure Thing” had female fans immediately screaming. The night felt like a scene from Magic Mike XXL, as a mostly topless Miguel had the ladies in the palm of his hand. After a quick costume change into a “Wildheart” tank, he soon stripped off that, saying he was “sweating up a storm” because of all the “hot ladies” in the room. Cue tank soaked in the heartthrob’s sweat chucked into the crowd.

To counterpoint the steamy antics, Miguel spoke openly about the album’s inspiration, citing individuality as the core of being wild hearts. After a soulful rendition of “Leaves,”  he continued to preach. “Normality is subjective and not our job to conform. It is a plague on society,” he said. “Limiting individuals to dream outside of the box.” Offering a window into the creative process of “What’s Normal Anyway?,” the Angeleno shared his experiences growing up as a mixed-race youth and feeling pulled to pick a tribe. His music represented his varied background from the salsa-like rhythms on “Waves” to a mini cover of 2Pac’s “I Get Around” into “Do You.” Miguel jumped into the masses crowd-surfing to the jubilation of his admirers. (No injuries on these attempts unlike at the Billboard Music Awards.) An encore trio of tunes included summer-hit “Coffee,” a mash-up of “How Many Drinks?” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank),” and the always favored “Adorn” to end the night. The sound went out momentarily on the mash-up, but Miguel didn’t skip a beat, continuing without amplification as audience members quickly joined in on the chorus. His inability to stop even during technical snafus only highlighted the artist’s persistence and true individual spirit. A wild heart all the way. —Sharlene Chiu