When Miguel debuted “Sky Walker” (the lead single from his fourth album War and Leisure) on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this past December, his latest creative undertaking somehow manifested into visions of human flight. The singer performed with a parachute attached to his customized jumpsuit. Even though the strings noticeably tightened as he lunged forward throughout the song, his movements never felt restricted and his resolve was never deterred.
This overarching theme is essential to unpacking Miguel’s subtle reinvention with War and Leisure; the once meticulously crafted R&B crooner who often fixed his gaze on (and sometimes fell victim to) his own lustful cravings inevitably peered outward to not only explore the world around him, but dissect, analyze and ultimately embrace it. That’s not to say that he’s shelved his sexual proclivities in lieu of his latest project — he’s just become more fully realized.
Miguel brought his sensual energy to Boston’s House of Blues this past Monday (March 19). In front of a sold-out crowd, he emerged on a riser covered in lights and immediately jumped into the politically charged “Now” as the first song of the evening followed by “Criminal” (both from War and Leisure). With his infamous fringe-clad mic stand in tow, Miguel euphorically glided through newer tunes (“Banana Clip,” “Told You So,” “Caramelo Duro,” “Come Through and Chill”) and graciously offered up stripped down renditions of older favorites (“How Many Drinks?,” “Do You,” “Sure Thing”).
Even when he briefly teased hooks from some of his most memorable collaborations (Wale’s “Lotus Flower Bomb,” J. Cole’s “Power Trip”), Miguel’s piercing vocal delivery and overall demeanor remained fresh, passionate and absorbing. This vibrancy permeated “waves” and the buoyant “Pineapple Skies” before transitioning into the final moments of the night.
Right before the start of his encore, the singer expressed gratitude for everyone in attendance that stuck with him since the beginning of his musical journey and weathered every album, every mistake, every impulse. Miguel also stressed the importance of individuality and trusting who you are. Despite being released six years ago, “Adorn” remained timeless and proved to be quite the sing along. When “Sky Walker” was revealed as the very last song in Miguel’s set, it conjured up the memory of the man we saw back in December with a parachute strapped to his back: Jovial, fearless, and finally free.
Featured Miguel image by Candace McDuffie; follow her on Instagram @cmcduffie1.