War & Leisure

It’s a sold-out house as the sun goes down at the Berkeley Greek Theatre and dozens of couples stand in embrace amongst droves of squealing women all swaying in excitement. They wait for Miguel Pimentel to take the stage for the last sold-out show of his North American tour. Recognized by his singular moniker, Miguel is well known for his Prince-like harmonies infused with an electric R&B sound and just a hint of rock ‘n’ roll. Since first entering the mainstream in 2010 with his hit single “All I Want is You,” Miguel continues to prove himself to be a staple on the charts and in the ears of millions by delivering consistently sensual, melodic experiences, album after album. Miguel’s musical talents are even known to occasionally find their way to the big screen; he recently lent his vocals to the song “Remember Me” from the Disney-Pixar animated film, Coco. The song went on to win an Oscar for Best Original Song at the 2018 Academy Awards, where he performed with Mexican pop-star, Natalie Lafourcade.

Following the Oscars, Miguel went on to finish the rest of his mostly sold-old tour where he made stops in nearly thirty-five different North American cities. The tour, titled after his fourth studio album, War & Leisure, is what he describes to be an intimate testament to what he is feeling about the world at this moment. In the Trump era, when the public is more interested in the political stance of entertainers than ever before, it’s no wonder that Miguel is also utilizing his international platform to bring awareness to causes important to him. Each show of his tour begins with a quick and artfully shot 6-minute video celebrating his efforts to help reform Immigration Rights. The video also presents his allegiance to the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, a group committed to engaging African Americans and other under-serviced communities in creating a dialogue for challenging immigration and other policies. Being of Mexican and African-American decent, these kinds of efforts are so obviously close to Miguel’s heart that he has even committed to donating a portion of the tour merchandise proceeds to the organization.

The War & Leisure album, which was released on December 1st of 2017, is also coded with political gems that are woven into catchy melodies. Songs like “Banana Clip” and “Now” are delivered in a highly energetic yet sensual fashion. However, almost unbeknownst to his diverse and mostly youthful fanbase, heavily charged lyrics in which he says things like, “Now or never, we can work together – we only suffer what we allow” and “There’s a war on love just look around you” echo his message of encouraging inclusivity and understanding between all communities. A Miguel show is not all serious sentiments, though, as it delivers a healthy dose of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll that is promised by any other comparable All-American act. Armed with an outstanding tenor vocal range and a hip thrust that could rival the King of Pop’s, Miguel’s voice can successfully unify and connect all walks of life with ease. His tribute to America with the album War and Leisure is another moody snapshot which captures a glimpse of the beauty that is left in the chaos of our time.

Text Savannah Blum
Images Courtesy of Fred Agho