Review: Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin bring intensity, hits and slouchy cool to tour opener

·4 min read

LAS VEGAS – One is complete feral intensity. The other is laid-back, slouchy cool.

One is a whirlwind of muscular dance moves set to throbbing percussion. The other is wiry and catlike as he scales railings and ramps during a parade of rhythmic pop.

Yet the pairing of Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias on their first joint tour isn’t about their differences, but, rather, how these Latin superstars complement each other.

The tour – postponed a year because of COVID-19 – kicked off Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with lasers, pyro, moving catwalks, confetti and irrepressible smiles from Martin and Iglesias, both clearly euphoric to be back onstage.

Enrique Iglesias joined with Ricky Martin for a tour that launched Sept. 25, 2021 in Las Vegas.
Enrique Iglesias joined with Ricky Martin for a tour that launched Sept. 25, 2021 in Las Vegas.

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Given their ample catalogs – they’ve collectively sold more than 250 million albums worldwide – culling lean set lists must have provoked some migraines. But Martin's and Iglesias’ individual hourlong performances ideally represented bilingual fan favorites and omnipresent radio smashes.

Colombia native Sebastián Yatra launched this musical fiesta (taking the stage 15 minutes earlier than advertised) with an eight-song set that bounced from the acoustic guitar ballad “Un Año” to the frisky “Chica Ideal.”

In black jeans and a tank top, Yatra charmed with a combination of humbleness (“This is beyond a dream for me,” he said of opening for two of his idols) and reliably sturdy songs, his voice soaring on “No Hay Nadie Mas.”

Moments after Yatra’s set concluded, Martin and his band stormed onstage under a colorful explosion of yellow and red lights for “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” his English-language breakthrough smash from 1999.

Ricky Martin shows his dance moves at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ricky Martin shows his dance moves at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Stylish in a black satin robe with an “R” emblazoned on the back, pantaloons and combat boots, Martin traversed the stage, his three-piece horn section following their Pied Piper as he rolled through “La Bomba” and the impassioned ballad “Vuelve.”

It didn’t take long for Martin to slink to the end of the catwalk that jutted from the stage, sweat trickling down his face as he raised his hands skyward and grinned toward the ceiling, soaking in the long-anticipated applause.

Surrounded by male and female dancers donning face masks – which only boosted the sexy-ometer – Martin, 49, was both philosophical (“All I see is a path filled with light,” he said from the stage) and seductive.

With a raised eyebrow or tilt of his chiseled jaw, Martin conveys more emotion than the most flamboyant frontmen. Whether crooning a valentine or swiveling in lockstep with his dancers, Martin is a constant tease, his hips a GPS to all kinds of trouble.

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His songs are also stocked with rich Latin cadences, showcased on “Lola, Lola” – its blistering horns a centerpiece – and “Maria.”

Ricky Martin brought his feral intensity to the stage at his tour kickoff with Enrique Iglesias on Sept. 25, 2021 in Las Vegas.
Ricky Martin brought his feral intensity to the stage at his tour kickoff with Enrique Iglesias on Sept. 25, 2021 in Las Vegas.

Martin’s voice sounded clean and pure as he playfully gyrated during “She Bangs,” still a bundle of goofy fun. He also engaged in the burlesque setting that accompanied “Shake Your Bon Bon,” dancing with women and men alike as they frolicked around giant dice set across the stage.

Flashing peace signs and smiles, Martin verified that his status as an impeccable showman hasn’t diminished during his encore of “The Cup of Life,” which included precise percussion, plumes of dry ice and showers of confetti.

Enrique Iglesias gets close to fans at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Enrique Iglesias gets close to fans at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

After a 30-minute set change, Iglesias arrived to the feisty chugging rhythm of “I’m a Freak,” crouching as he sang in his trademark dark cap and black workshirt with the sleeves rolled up.

The only evidence of an opening-night glitch came toward the end of the song, when the sound completely evaporated. But it was quickly restored for the electro-tinged pop of “Chasing the Sun,” from Iglesias’ just-released “Final Vol. 1” album.

Like Martin, Iglesias could barely stop beaming throughout his set, so obviously joyful about the ability to interact with fans again. He hopped into the crowd and endured some significant pawing during “Bailamos,” his No. 1 hit from 1999, before heading to the back of the arena with a few band members to perform several songs on the smaller stage, including “Cuando Me Enamoro” and the sighing “Loco.”

“I know we’re trying to be as safe as possible, but I’m going to ask for one favor: Go (expletive) crazy tonight!” Iglesias, 46, shouted, raising a shot glass in a toast to the frenzied fans.

He displayed an undiminished upper register on “Be With You,” which was buoyed by swirling aqua lasers, and purred through “Hero,” his voice breaking in all of the right spots as percussion added an undercurrent to the mega-ballad.

Enrique Iglesias performs onstage at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 25, 2021 for the kickoff of his tour with Ricky Martin in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Live Nation)
Enrique Iglesias performs onstage at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 25, 2021 for the kickoff of his tour with Ricky Martin in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Live Nation)

After straddling the railing to slap hands with fans – still predominantly female, but with plenty of testosterone present as well – Iglesias led the crowd in a hand-waving, standing-on-chairs version of the anthemic “Bailando.”

Fittingly, the dance floor rager “I Like It” wrapped his set, as giant balloons dropped from the rafters and confetti again coated the floor.

While fans might be understandably disappointed that Martin and Iglesias didn’t collaborate during the show, the final bows included both Martin and Yatra joining Iglesias on stage to slap backs and clown around for a few minutes.

The trio is slated to tour through November – sufficient time to catch this effervescent spectacle of Latin pride.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin review: First tour date wows in Vegas

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