Maluma’s Sold-Out LA Show Is Only The Beginning: Live Review

Maluma’s Sold-Out LA Show Is Only The Beginning: Live Review

Shakira & Maluma's Sexy "Chantaje" Video
Shakira and Maluma have a crossover smash on their hands with "Chantaje."

Towards the end of his sold-out show at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Maluma humbly thanked 8,000 screaming fans for being part of his journey and then promised that it was only the beginning. After watching the 23-year-old sing, dance and generally charm his way through 90 minutes of pure entertainment, I don’t doubt it. There hasn’t been this kind of buzz about a Latin artist since the turn of the millennium when Ricky Martin and Shakira had the entire world dancing to their sexy beats and sultry rhythms.

And the numbers don’t lie. Since breaking internationally with sophomore LP, Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy, the Colombian hitmaker has developed the kind of social engagement that would make an American pop star weep. Take YouTube. “Sin Contrato,” “Borró Cassette” and “El Perdedor” have all racked up more than 500 million views. Maluma’s collaborations have been even more successful. His song with Ricky Martin, “Vente Pa’ Ca,” has a whopping 700 million views, while his irresistible duet with Shakira, “Chantaje,” is closing in on the magical one billion mark. What’s the appeal?

Well, he’s easy on the eyes. The ocean of swooning ladies at the Microsoft Theater hung on his every word and erupted into a frenzy when he serenaded a woman on stage. The performer clearly relishes his hearthrob status, keeping fans happy with shirtless selfies and gym pics. (And yes, his abs were on display by the end of the show). But there are a lot of pretty boys in music. Maluma is the full package. He can sing, as he showed off in multiple a cappella moments, and dance. Most importantly, he knows how to connect with an audience.

From the minute he leapt on stage in an all-white outfit studded with diamonds, Maluma looked like he was having the time of his life and went out of his way to make sure the audience felt the same way. The rising star launched straight into “Borró Cassette,” while smoke jets exploded and elaborate screens showed clips from his YouTube-conquering videos. It was clear from the screams that echoed around the venue when he took off his sunglasses that it was going to be quite a party.

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The first third of the show was mainly upbeat party jams like “Borró Cassette” and “Sin Contrato” (the song he rerecorded with Fifth Harmony). There was a lot of grinding, cheeky grins and hand-waving. Things really heated up, however, when he belted out Thalia duet, “Desde Esa Noche,” and aforementioned smash, “Vente Pa’ Ca.” Fans were dancing in the aisles and singing along with every word — the kind of antics usually reserved for pop radio-conquering superstars. If he can win over English-language fans, it’s only a matter of time before he’s one of them.

Maluma then switched it up by strumming an acoustic guitar for a romantic ballad. It allowed him to show off his vocal ability and segued into the night’s cutest/most hilarious moment, when he brought a fan onstage and serenaded her with “Tengo Un Amor.” The heartthrob held her hand, wrapped her arms around his waist and stared into his eyes. The clearly-overwhelmed woman kept it together initially, but ultimately gave in to his charms and went in for a sloppy kiss. You won’t see that at a Justin Bieber concert!

After a quick costume change (he returned in all black), Maluma belted out “La Temperatura” and quickly moved on to a couple of familiar anthems. He performed “Chantaje” with pre-recorded Shakira vocals. (The video was also projected on screens). Next up was a reggaeton remix of Shakira and Carlos Vives’ all-conquering “La Bicicleta,” which had everyone chanting. The breakout star earned another wave of applause for shouting, “What’s up Los Angeles?” and then left the stage to slip into red pants for the big finale.

By the time Maluma closed the show with “Carnaval” — complete with smoke jets, confetti, an epilepsy-inducing lights show and a dance-off — it was clear that the Colombian is destined for bigger things. He’s already got a vice-like grip on the Latin market, but he has the look and talent to crossover. If he decided to follow that path, the next time Maluma plays Los Angeles, chances are, he’ll be performing across the road at Staples Center.

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