On an unseasonably warm Thursday night (Feb. 15), the self-proclaimed King of Bachata kicked off his 18-city Golden Tour in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The veteran Latin sensation and internationally celebrated artist is here to remind people why he’s at the top, so forget everything you’ve read, seen or heard about a Romeo Santos concert.
Before Santos takes his throne, Dominican rapper Mozart La Para, 30, presides the stage slick in a red jacket and black bottoms. Santos’ first signee to Roc Nation Latin takes off with hit songs like “Pa Gozar,” “Levantate” and “Primero Que Kanye.” He then brings out his daughter Charlotte, and sweetly sings a daddy-daughter duet to Liro Shaq, Chimbala and La Para’s “Bye Bye.” The boisterous tyke steals the show sporting a rosy faux fur jacket as she bopped all around the stage.
Minutes after Para’s set, Santos emerges from a brightly lit fiery backdrop of neon light beams, which appear milliseconds away from turning into flames. A thunderstorm of screams inundate the arena and a sea of cell phone lights begin to document his arrival. Clad in coal-black gear and sunglasses, Bachata’s boy wonder and sensitive playboy begins with an Antony Santos-inspired perico ripiao followed by “Perjurio” and “Por Un Segundo.”
Throughout the show, Romeo plays a slew of classics from his Aventura days and previous solo albums like Formula Vol 1. His ability to keep viewers on the edge of their seats is overwhelmingly tangible, as his flawless vocals span for over two hours. He often charms the crowd with promises of a different experience: “You have to do something new. Women need something modern, that’s why change is essential,” he affirms.
It’s his prowess on stage and expert musicianship that have made him this generation’s bachata legend. He tries to be modest about this: “When I proclaim myself king I do it with respect,” he tells the crowd. “The real king is the one above,” he says, pointing to the sky. “I’m the king of something very simple, this shit right here. Because I tend to bring the best of the best. I love you guys and I work my ass off to give you the best.”
When it was time for “Bella y Sensual” he scouts for two men in the audience to replace Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam’s parts. After two fans named Marcelo and Carlos fail to suffice, Romeo politely but comically kicks them off stage. When the beat finally drops, Nicky and Yankee glide on stage and the crowd immediately erupts into a massive earthquake of shrieks.
But that wasn’t the only surprise. Halfway through the show, now barefaced and sans sports coat, he introduces hometown hero and Bronx’s reigning rap princess Cardi B. The petite Dominican-Trinidadian shimmies over in a gold-copper two-piece suit and salutes the electrified crowd before her: “Waasshpopppiiin everybody!” she hollers. “We gonna party bacardi but let me fix my wig.”
“Bartier Cardi” blasts from the speakers and brings down the house, before gesturing her gratitude: “This is like a dream come true. Like, my nigga, when I was eight-years-old, I went to your concert in the United Palace in Washington Heights, and now I’m here.” Cardi finishes her set with the chart-topping record that forever changed the course of her life, “Bodak Yellow.”
Romeo takes over with “Héroe Favorito” and, midway through the track, he’s catapulted in the air, and floats over the crowd for his golden touch before touches back down on stage. He does this twice, and both efforts garner mind-boggling roars from his loyal legion of followers.
This wouldn’t be a Romeo show, however, without his displayed adoration for bodaciously voluptuous women — which is is why he brought out quite the dashing couger and smooched her during “Un Beso.”
He closed out the evening with the song that started it all for him: “Obsession.” Somethings never change, and maybe that’s why people are still in love with Romeo Santos.