Rosalía during her concert at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona

GIG REVIEW

Good Grief, Rosalía!

Revellers can’t get enough of the artist from Sant Esteve Sesrovires in the first of her two concerts at Palau Sant Jordi

Rosalía during her concert at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona / MANOLO GARCÍA

Good grief, Rosalía, it’s amazing the amount of confidence you project as an artist. And the amount of passion you generate. In Saturday’s gig at Palau Sant Jordi, when the concert really got going with Con altura, Rosalía announced to the audience that "It’s been the best year of my life and it’s all thanks to you. I love you very much". It was the result of a lot of hard work and, obviously, total faith in your art. It was also thanks to daring, since you mix rhythms and harmonies that, as you’re well aware, not everyone would have the courage to pull off in a way that comes across as pop; since it’s not only about reworking tradition with symbols from the present, but also about creating the future with a broad knowledge of multiple pasts. Good grief, Rosalía, for your common sense, since you realise a concert tells a story and, as Clara Peya would say, it’s irresponsible to experiment just for the sake of it.

It’s amazing that the Palau Sant Jordi was filled with over 15,000 punters (and there were 15,000 more on Sunday), who were more than ready to listen to and admire you, but also to dance and to copy those Cubist dance moves you’ve managed to make a part of popular culture in no time at all. That you had us right there, shouting "tra-tra" at the end of the set, waiting for the staccato rhythm to announce the start of " con altura" and asking them to “ tanquin el Louvre així com el Macba” ["close down the Louvre as well as the Macba"]. Your concerts are never just about watching and listening. As you’re already aware, as you already know, we realise that what you are achieving is unique. Good grief, Rosalía! "Thanks for all the support I receive from here, from my homeland", you said. And the audience replied with: "Rosalía, Rosalía, Rosalía!".

You soon learnt how to manage crowds and emotions from up on stage. You’ve done so on your festival tour, and particularly at such iconic events as Primavera Sound. And even so, in spite of being aware that you’re doing what you want, the way you want, in spite of being in control of the situation and knowing you’re surrounded by the people who’ve never let you down, it must’ve been a shock to hear the whole of Palau Sant Jordi singing Camarón’s Como el agua just before you went on stage, and especially hearing everyone go wild when you greeted them with "Barcelona!", and the opening bars of Pienso en tu mirá. Accepting the commitment it entails can’t be easy: you can’t disappoint when expectation are expressed with such passion, and even less so to a home crowd. You were close to tears, weren’t you, Rosalía?

Your artistic talent gives structure to the live performances which you’ve been perfecting since you presented your album El mal querer in Madrid a year ago. Two albums, some twenty live tracks and not one too many. You sing, you dance, you sing and dance, pacing yourself so that you don’t get out of breath. You’re no longer the least bit self-conscious: you’re in charge from beginning to end. You’re in charge because you have to be because, as Hector Lavoe said in Rubén Blades’ words, you’re here to give us the best speeches.

You kicked off by dancing Pienso en tu mirá with your troupe, the choreography of the tribe of roses which is all about challenge, sisterhood and power; the same with De madrugá, which you and your dancers bring to life with the intensity of an ancient liturgy.

With A Palé, before announcing that you were "really happy" to be in your hometown, you showed us how to make the most of a stage, projecting containers on the screen, nothing more. It’s all about knowing how to manage your resources. By the way, what a great idea to start the show by projecting your name in a multitude of typefaces: you’re not just one style but rather the result of many, and all of them are Rosalía.

You made us all swing to the beat of Barefoot in the park, which you sing unaccompanied, the diva of melancholic landscapes, giving the dancers and yourself a chance to catch their breath. And then suddenly we were following the sampled loop of the flamenco guitar in Que no salga la luna and clapping along to the beat of the fandango Maldición. During the latter you took the opportunity to thank your flamenco teacher, Chiqui de la Línea, for everything he taught you about singing. Rosalía, for you flamenco is like soul music for Beyoncé: the roots that will feed you until the very end. "I like flamenco more than pizza", you said. Did you hear the silence fall across the venue when you sang the a cappella lament to Catalina’s fate? And the enormous cheer that went up when you finished? You enjoyed yourself, transporting yourself to another dimension, singing what Manuel Vallejo sang almost a century ago, before reminding us all what Enrique Morente meant when he sang vibrato Aunque es de noche: the way you keep getting better, Rosalía, you make El Guincho [Rosalía’s co-producer and collaborator] feel like the organist in a digital cathedral. And the marvellous way in which your backing singers Los Makarines, Anna Colom and Claudia La Chispa Gómez accompanied you throughout the whole set.

Las Grecas [a flamenco-rock duo from the 1970s] still work as a steppingstone between your more flamenco tunes and hits like El mal querer, Di mi nombre, De aquí no sales (with its choreography which pulls no punches) and Bagdad, pain and glory in the darkness of toxic love. When you performed at Primavera Sound you hadn’t released Milionària, which is now one of your fans’ favourites and it’s needed now to lower the drama and open the floodgates of joy which dominates the last third of the set. You have fun with Brillo and with Como Ali, which you sing all cocky while sporting a pair of sunglasses, like J. Balvin. And then you tug on the heartstrings with Lo presiento, in the search for a sensuality which anticipates the reggaeton of Yo x ti, tú x mí, which El Guincho makes sound harder, Con altura. At this point, it’s clear there’s no going back. You sing A ningún hombre, you work wonders with Aute Cuture, as if you were saying hi to J-Lo, and wrap up a two-hour gig with Malamente. Such a highpoint that there’s no need to prolong something that works so perfectly. Good grief, Rosalía!

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