Alvaro Soler brings a touch of Magia to Paris.
Alvaro Soler is speaking French. Or trying to. A few bits of Italian slip in by mistake, and he defaults into Spanish or English when the sentences get stuck. Midway through his Magia European tour, the polyglot pop star was in Vienna a few days ago and in Milan before that. No wonder then, it’s a little tricky to switch gears.
The past few years have seen the Spanish-German singer make a name for himself as a continental superstar – and not only thanks to his chart-topping summer hits. His multilingual talents have earned him a place in popular culture across European borders; be it as a judge on X Factor Italy and The Voice Kids Germany, or a starring role in the Italian and German versions of the film Encanto. One could even go as far as to say he is the true embodiment of the European dream (thank you for coming to my TED talk).
Tonight’s concert is his first in Paris in three years (the whole tour was pushed back because of Covid) and he’s on fine form, opening the show with his latest release, Candela. The song has a distinctly Latin American flavour, the trumpet solo taking centre stage.
It’s a mixed crowd, couples, children, teenage girls and several mid 20-something guys here by themselves. Soler caters to everyone, encouraging children to sing during Manila and dedicating En Tu Piel to the lovers.
Like the hardcore fans here, I am also a self-confessed Alvaro fan, but I’ll try to keep a lid on the fangirl for the purposes of an objective review. Anyway. When I wasn’t screaming the lyrics to Magia at the top of my lungs or doing choreographed dance routines to La Cintura and instead, you know, actually reviewing the show, it’s notable how many of his songs are based around a single word or a “lalala”. Paired with a catchy melody, it’s the key to his continental success. Surpassing any language barriers everyone can join in on a song like Ella where the word appears exactly 18 times in the first chorus alone. It’s a tried and tested formula that appears in his newer releases too, and listening to them back-to-back, it’s clear he treads a fine line between having a signature sound and not making all his tracks sound too similar.
Soler perseveres with the French becoming smoother as he warms up. He performs El Mismo (French title: La Même), singing GIMS’ French verse, and reading the lyrics from behind the piano propped up on his phone – it’s a stark difference to watching GIMS perform the same song a few months ago where he merely nodded along to the pre-recorded verse of the other singer. Soler admits afterwards this is the first time he has performed a song in French.
Elsewhere, it’s heartening to see how well he gets on with his band and the chemistry between the performers who genuinely all look like they’re having fun. Soler not only introduces them but also dedicates a whole segment to telling a story (in French) about his Bolivian guitarist. Bonus points as well for using reusable water bottle (we LOVE an environmentally conscious pop star.)
His infectious energy is undeniable; “hoy es leg day!” he shouts as he and the band do squats on stage, and encourage the audience to join in. Equally, the programme strikes the perfect balance between talking to the audience, ballads and up tempo hits. During Esperandote he comes into the crowd and sits in the middle, another nice touch. He also brings out his brother and support act Greg Taro for a duet on Diferente. Then, for the encore, Solo Para Ti becomes a techno rave number, raising his folk pop show to another level.
Soler is a seasoned performer and clearly thrilled to be back on stage. There’s a brief moment during A Contracorriente where he stands still. The band continues to play and Soler gazes up at the lights, he raises the mic to his lips to sing: “Este es mi lugar” (“This is my place”), and you feel he really means it. Then, just like that, he’s back in the room, breaking into a winning smile and making a heart sign with his hands to the front row.