Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull @ Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield CA 02/12/15

I’m going somewhat out of order with this blog due to laziness, but who cares 🙂 Ok. I’m not ashamed to admit that I saw this gig and ENJOYED IT…A LOT. And funny enough, some weeks later, the lady that cut my hair gave me a cock-eyed look when I told her I saw Enrique and Pitbull in concert. Look, several things impressed me about Enrique’s performance. I had wrongly written him off as a Streisand. But latin heart throb status aside, he’s actually a great performer and entertainer. He effectively bridged the gap between audience and performer. He worked every part of the stage, including the extended wings and runway, giving each section of the audience a closer glimpse of him, making all the chicks (and some dudes) go wild. He even braved stepping down from the stage right platform into the loge section, standing on top of the barrier while the women clamored down to get a closer look and a chance to grab his ass or something. I’m amazed that none of the braver ones tried to molest him. From my vantage point, it was something else seeing that large cluster of women go buck-wild. Some held onto his legs and supported him, so he wouldn’t fall from the barrier. Others gazed up at him adoringly. Some shrieked and squealed, while others passionately sang along to every word, eyes clenched shut and arms raised outward, as if to embrace him. The fanatics were out in full force and Enrique encouraged the hysteria and fed off of it. Whoa…

There were several changes to the set compared to the shows completed during the fall 2014 leg. Most notably, Enrique opened the show, I think in order to more properly set the stage for Pitbull’s more relentless collection of uptempo songs. And to better compliment Pitbull, Enrique selected more upbeat tracks to round out his set. While a few of the signature ballads remained, the majority of the set comprised of the anthemic and uptempo new songs along with some of his classic dance material. It made for a great party atmosphere. The set was hopping, with a sprinkling of tender songs mixed in. And instead of bringing a girl onto the B-stage for a drink and a slow dance, he pulled up this vato who looked like an Enrique impersonator, complete with the stubble, red v-neck and green ball cap. He was drunk as hell and it was hard to make out what the hell he was saying, but he and Enrique knocked back some shots and led the crowd into a cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” sort of.

The connection with the audience continued as Enrique regularly addressed the audience in English and Spanish, thanking us emphatically for the support, and he reminisced about the late 90’s when he first performed in Bakersfield. He was personable with the crowd, no arrogance, no entitled prick-like attitude. Erica would later remark that he was truly touched by the energetic crowd and warm reception. In comparison, the LA crowd in October were half-asleep. It was like someone passed around a giant bottle of valium at the Staples Center show. It was reported that Enrique was visibly disappointed with the LA audience and shook his head and threw down his arms in frustration at times when the crowd wouldn’t respond. Here in Bakersfield, the adrenalized crowd actually looked like they were joyously having the times of their lives, unlike the boring LA bastards. What a great moment to witness first hand.

Selections included I’m a Freak, I Like How it Feels, Finally Found You, Bailamos, El Perdedor, Loco, Be With You, Escape, Tonight I’m Loving You, Bailando, I like it.

Pitbull followed after a surprisingly impressive set by Enrique. Pitbull’s set was electric – neon lit, blinking light, Vegas kind of electric. It was like an 80 minute DJ set: non stop and pulsing with energy and beats. While Enrique freely traveled the stage, Pitbull in comparison would take part in some of the dance routines and keep to center stage or periodically venture down the main runway. His dancers, 6 leggy beauties, were practically the center piece of the stage show. The stage show itself was effective but not too elaborate. Some cool backdrops and video sequences were used along with a good light show. This kind of stage production helped focus the attention on Pitbull and his pitgirls. Pitbull isn’t a crooner or that great of a vocalist by any means. However what he lacks in vocal ability he made up for in the performance department. Pitbull worked his ass off and he was quickly drenched in sweat. I give the man props for dressing to the 9’s and being physical up there under bright spot lights. He doesn’t shy away from participating in the stage show. He was very physical, making the set very performance-based. He would break in between songs and give props to the audience, graciously addressing the Latinos of the South Valley and giving special props to the area farmers, expressing “we all work hard, we all hustle,” relating to his personal story, negative to a positive, self-made success.

A wealth of material was performed, with many of the songs melting into other selections – why I say that it was very much like a DJ set. One criticism is that Pitbull performs only portions or interpolations of his songs. You get into a song and you’ll only hear 1 verse and 1 chorus, then bam, a transition occurs and the band is off and running into the next song without a rest. This makes for a nonstop string of songs, but if you wanted to hear the complete version you might be disappointed. Selections included Don’t stop the Party, International Love, Dance Again, Hey Baby (dropit to the floor), Get it Started, Vivir Mi Vida, Bon Bon, Back In Time, Fireball, Shake/Culo, Hotel Room Service, I Know You Want Me, Give Me Everything, Move Shake Drop, and Have Some Fun. The group also snuck in some covers, including sections of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Crazy Train,” making for some rockin’ changeups during the booty shaking set.

The strongest criticism I have is regarding Rabobank Arena’s lackluster security staff. My friend from work had second row, floor level seats close to the runway. She along with some family members tried to enjoy premium seating. However scores of uber excited paisas from several rows back regularly bum-rushed the first couple of rows, making for a shitty time for audience members who paid a lot of money for a better vantage point. These clusters of girls went unchecked, so some of the first and second row patrons had to handle the situation themselves by forcefully or verbally sending these girls back to their seats. Fights could have broken out. Whether it would have been enjoyable to watch cat fights at a concert is a separate discussion. But it certainly is very shitty and unprofessional for arena staff to allow this kind of situation to occur and escalate. And it was a frustrating distraction for the people with the awesome seats, the golden rows (including some older fans who didn’t have the means to correct the situation themselves). They didn’t get to enjoy the show like I did. Staff finally responded to the situation, but only after some minor melee incidents went down (“Wut tha fuuuuuck, you don’t hit a girrl!”)

This co-headlining tour was finally perfected. With Enrique modifying his set, he was better able to bridge his portion of the show to Pitbull’s, making for one stunning, non-stop party. The flow of the entire show was natural and the two artists complimented each other well, despite their differences in artistry and genres. It was astonishing how well this tour package worked. Great job Enrique and Pitbull, you’ve won my respect and gratitude and I’ll be a repeat customer. Thank you to the girls for letting me come along as their designated driver. Fun night and awesome show 🙂

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Posted on June 4, 2015, in Concerts: 2012 - Present, Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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