On one of the few occasions when someone from L.A. will get raucous applause within the city limits of Boston, R&B singer Miguel displayed a showmanship beyond his years at the Wilbur Theatre Sunday night. Touring in support of his newly released album, “Kaleidoscope Dream,” the Grammy-nominated soul singer was masterful during his 80-minute set before a near-sellout crowd.
The audience quickly came to realize that Miguel is a rock star masquerading as an R&B singer. Apparently no one told him that he could get by without an arena rock light show in the sing-to-tracks world of R&B. The lighting design truly enhanced the performance, from subtle V-shaped lights to frantic pulses accompanying “Girls Like U” that might have sent the light-sensitive into attacks.
While Miguel and his four-piece band ran through his hits with the precision of a mini version of Prince and the Revolution, you never got the feeling he was going through the motions. Fun is usually a missing element in shows these days, especially in an era of take-the-money-and-run performances, but Miguel and his band seemed to genuinely enjoy their time onstage.
The playful spirit came through at various points in the show. His ode to his hometown found the entire band joining him as he did the Humpty Dance to Tupac’s “I Get Around.” When their tribute materialized into the intro of Miguel’s biggest hit, “Quickie,” the audience seemed genuinely surprised by the swerve in energy. The intro of his Wale-free version of “Lotus Flower Bomb” was drowned out by crowd cheers, and his latest single, “Adorn” became a massive sing-a-long.
Even with all his rock star
accouterments, Miguel is still a soul singer at heart. His performance and dance moves evoked the energy of classic soul men like James Brown and Jackie Wilson (down to the haircut), and his mix of the old and the new was a refreshing change. If Trey Songz is the heir to R. Kelly’s throne, then after this show, Miguel has proven to be the scion of Prince.