Latin pop double threats Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias gave strong performances in Fresno on Friday night, but one moment will likely stick out in the memories of many who attended.
It happened about 20 minutes into Iglesias’ set, when the singer and most of his band moved from the massive main stage at the east side of the Save Mart Center to a smaller stage in the center.
After a few songs, Iglesias motioned to a man standing on the floor nearby to come on stage with him. A middle-aged Latino man wearing a bright button-up shirt and carrying a half-full beer awkwardly climbed up with Iglesias.
Iglesias asked the man’s name. It was Blas, and Blas was friendly. I’d bet that wasn’t Blas’ first beer, but we were at a concert. What am I, a cop? That’s to be expected.
He asked Blas what he did for a living.
“I’m a landscaper!”
The crowd erupted.
Iglesias then asked if Blas was born in the United States.
“I was born in Mexico!”
An even bigger ovation followed.
“You’re like me,” Iglesias said. “You’re a dreamer. We’re dreamers.”
The onstage interview continued. Blas has been married 16 years. He and his wife have two children. Iglesias asked him what the secret to staying married that long was.
“The secret is respect!” Blas yelled after a careful moment.
Blas now owned this crowd. He and Iglesias then took turns drinking a bottle of brown liquor together.
Iglesias asked Blas to help him sing a song for his wife. As the pop star moved through the tune, Blas seemed unsure of what to do on stage. He did not really sing along, and he just sort of moved around on stage a bit.
However, at Iglesias’ urging, Blas belted the final line of the song. It was actually pretty good, and Iglesias seemed pleasantly surprised with his new friend.
Now, I am used to singers bringing women on stage and singing to them. Especially when those singers look like Iglesias, who proved he could make most of the women present scream like 13-year-olds just by shooting a sullen glance off the side of the stage.
This was not that. Most of the time, the people brought on stage make me sink into an embarrassed puddle. But Blas and Iglesias’ five-minute friendship seemed so genuine, and the audience was extremely supportive.
I’ve just never seen something like that on stage.
Beyond that, the concert was solid.
Iglesias was the stronger of the two artists despite going on first.
His bilingual mix of ballads and dance tunes flowed together effortlessly, creating an infectious energy. He knew when to move and when to stand in one place and belt it.
Pitbull is probably the hotter artist right now, but his catalog wasn’t quite strong enough to carry his performance.
His songs all sound the same, which isn’t a bad thing when they are mixed into a club playlist. But strung back-to-back? His style and the deliberate, consistent cadence with which he raps start to run together.
Pitbull also relies on other singers for many of his songs’ hooks, so it’s a bit like he was rapping along to a CD. But at least it was a good CD.
I’m surprised and a little disappointed Pitbull didn’t bring Iglesias back for a song or two. They’ve recorded a few together, and that’s normally a slam dunk for these double-headliner shows. It was a missed opportunity.
He didn’t put on a bad show. There was energy. His dancers’ outfits also provided a thorough lesson in female anatomy for the packed audience, so that’s something. But for me, Pitbull’s set felt a bit too much like a 20-minute Super Bowl halftime show stretched into more than an hour.
Both acts deployed all the big-tour bells and whistles: pyrotechnics, huge screens, lights, balloons, confetti.
After my first hour with each, Iglesias is a must-see under any circumstance. He’s dreamy and talented. My female high-school classmates were right.
Pitbull is a pretty fun show if you want to dance, but there’s not a whole lot else for you unless you enjoy surprisingly strong motivational speaking between each song.