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Miguel wants to be a free bird, transcending the boundaries of race, genre or societal expectations — or so he repeatedly stated during his sold-out show at Terminal 5 in New York City. During his two-hour set, the R&B rocker guided those in the tri-level venue through his numerous artistic dualities, while inviting them to also embrace their own complicated, yet true, selves.
The shirtless singer first emerged in a feathered leather jacket, mustard-colored boots and now-signature fringe-covered mic stand, showcasing the span of his five-year discography with a three-song opener. Whether reflecting on the bittersweet vibes of California, listing refreshing metaphors of making love or crowd-surfing to the middle of the audience, his strong and precise vocals never let up, soaring and adapting to the set’s shifting sounds and moods.
Likewise, the Grammy winner’s choreography switched between the slow, ab-showcasing gyrations of his R&B roots on 2010’s All I Want Is You and 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream to the energized head-bopping — or, rather, body-bopping — of the rock ‘n’ roll sound recently emphasized on his third album, Wildheart. Still, his cyclone-like movements often evoked bird-like silhouettes onstage, his arms flapping slowly as his torso rotated and his knee lifted midway.
His nearly two-hour set was stretched by a handful of sermons — one of which was delivered from atop a riser — on brazen free-spiritedness and individuality. “There are so many opinions out there. … You know what I say to all that? I say, f— all that. You see, I know and I believe that there will only ever be one, and there has only ever been one, and there is only ever gonna be one of you, ever,” he preached, always dressed in an all-white outfit (with the exception of his own tour tank). “Why conform to someone else’s ideas of what you should be? … Society will tell you that normal is one thing, and I don’t believe that. F— normality. Normality is what you think it is. It’s about your perspective, curating your life, understand?”
The Los Angeles native of Latin and African-American descent also explained that his biracial roots led to his aversion of categories. “I couldn’t find a place for myself, and I carried that with me for so long,” he said (in both English and Spanish). In the middle of his “what’s normal anyway” track, he called on the audience to take an oath: “I promise myself to never conform or succumb to the so-called norm. I will be myself, and most of all, I will believe in myself.”
Though Miguel’s showcased catalog bounced between genres, topics and attitudes toward love, home and human existence, the introspective singer remained celebratory and uplifting, accepting of his musical extremities.
“Remember, you can only go as far as you allow yourself to dream, so dream far, far, far, and dream big and dream wide. Take yourself and your life to the f—ing moon if you want to,” he said in closing, throwing up a sign of the horns and bowing with his palms in a prayer. “Believe in yourself enough to ignore all the bullshit, and I promise you you’ll be happy — and we need more happy people in this world.”
Girls Like You
Pussy is Mine
what’s normal anyway?
All I Want Is You
I Get Around
face the sun
How Many Drinks?
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