Miguel @ The Strand

Miguel’s recent show at The Strand in Providence, RI marks my 3rd time seeing the R&B singer perform live since becoming obsessed with his music back in 2012. Every time I see him, I’m caught off guard by how guitar-driven and rock forward his live sound is compared to his records.

Listening back to his albums again as I have over the days since the show, Miguel’s rock influences definitely come through in songs like Arch & Point, The Thrill, and …goingtohell, but they're nowhere near as pronounced as they are in his live shows which, for example, feature a handful of what I can only describe as face-melting, Van Halen-style guitar solos. Even the way Miguel carries himself on stage more closely resembles the loose swagger of a rock performer than the tightly choreographed, dance-heavy performance style of more mainstream R&B acts like Bruno Mars or Chris Brown.

What’s remarkable about this to me is how well Miguel pulls it off. It shouldn’t work for an R&B/soul singer to essentially perform rock covers of his own songs, but it mostly does. Overall, I slightly prefer the more well-balanced sound of his albums, especially since parts of his show veer dangerously close to Lenny Kravitz territory (I like to describe Miguel as my generation’s Prince to the uninitiated, so I’d hate to see him ultimately remembered as my generation’s Lenny Kravitz). But at the same time, there’s something so exciting about an artist taking that kind of risk with their live performances, and what other artist in the industry can claim to be both an R&B recording artist and a full fledged rock star? I’m happy to let him have his cake and eat it too.