The tour featuring Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias, each a bona fide headliner, does not have a moniker. Let’s suggest Bringing the Miami Heat Tour.
What the two Miami-based stars gave to a sellout crowd of 16,000 Saturday at Target Center was as winning as what LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did with basketball’s Miami Heat, capturing two NBA titles in four years. Like those hoop stars, Pitbull and Iglesias brought different skill sets to Minneapolis’ NBA arena.
Pitbull was the Miami party machine, bringing nonstop energy and irresistible dance beats for 80 minutes. Like LeBron, he was like a runaway train, with a cast of anonymous dancers surrounding him, but he was doing all the heavy lifting.
Iglesias, like Wade, has a more varied and nuanced game. He offered romantic ballads in both English and Spanish, found the party groove at times, dusted off a pop oldie and slapped hands with countless fans.
At 39, Iglesias is the more experienced and versatile showman. Though dressed casually in a brown T-shirt, shiny jeans and a patrol cap, he had the rock-star vibe. He ran from side to side of the big stage and up and down the stage’s runway. In mid-show, he was wheeled in a large equipment case to a satellite stage at the back of the arena.
On that stage, he pulled out Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” — a song he said got him through tough times of childhood — after inviting a fan onstage. Ruben, 27, came to Minneapolis from Mexico five years ago. He wasn’t much of a singer when Iglesias handed him the mike, but he was quite the drinker when Iglesias handed him a bottle of booze.
Iglesias brought a certain intimacy with his schmaltzy ballads (“Hero” didn’t work because he kept asking the crowd to sing the chorus), fan interaction (he kissed one woman’s hand for what seemed forever) and lots of live video close-ups of him on the big screen.
If Iglesias exuded a rock-star vibe, Pitbull, 33, seemed like a showbiz star who stepped off the set of “Miami Vice.” With all kinds of Miami skylines, landscapes and sites on the screen behind him, the suave man with shaven head, aviator shades and black suit kept pumping up the crowd. He barely moved his feet but he worked his hips and arms like he was in rumba class at double-time tempo.
On nearly every number, Pitbull cavorted with colorful female dancers who kept changing outfits that always upped the hotness factor. He was often aided by singers — including Jennifer Lopez, Usher and Ke$ha — on the video screen contributing their parts to his hits. At song’s end, the ever-positive rapper, who grew up poor with Cuban immigrant parents, flashed an infectious smile that was half happiness and half self-satisfaction.
Mr. 305, who has recently redubbed himself as Mr. Worldwide, showed how he can connect with a crowd anywhere, by repeating universal phrases like “Bon Bon,” “I Know You Want Me” and “Don’t Stop the Party” over and over to you-can’t-stop-dancing rhythms.
Both stars played the race card, emphasizing their Latino roots, speaking in Spanish before English and asking fans about their heritage. Concertgoers waved flags from various nations as the evening celebrated ethnic pride. For the finale, Pitbull joined Iglesias for their 2010 electropop smash “I Like It.” Near song’s end, the thirtysomething stars were jumping up and down in unison amid a storm of confetti to a contagious beat like giddy teammates who’d just won another championship.
[Photos by Leslie Plesser]