On Wednesday, Romeo Santos had the ladies screaming at alarming frequencies for the kickoff of his Forever Vol.2 tour at Valley View Casino Center. He told the audience, "S.D., this is where it starts, because I love you guys."
Santos' new album features incredible collaborations with U.S. Latino greats Marc Anthony, Carlos Santana and Tego Calderon. It even contains skits with comedian Kevin Hart. Formula Vol.2 is easily going to be a 2014 nod in the Best Latin Album category. It's been reported that Santos is the first Latino musician in three years to debut in the Top 5 on the Billboard 200.
The Bronx-born and raised 32-year-old proved he has matured into one those rare-gem entertainers -- the type of guy you can imagine being your best friend or someone you can take back home to mami. It's in the way he walks and talks bachata -- keeping the crossover by wooing audiences in his distinctively Bronx Spanglish.
The stage was blanketed with royal red carpet. In the center stood a gold-finished mic stand in the shape of a king's scepter, which was held upright by a king's crown. Flanking Santos' microphone were two massive golden roaring lions facing away from each other. The arena lights dimmed and the stage lights began playing with the 8,000-plus audience's anticipation. The center stage's massive vertical screens began projecting an animation of a fantasy tour inside the King of Bachata's castle, even taking you into a hall of photography that showcased Santos' portraits and highlights of his musical career since leaving his former band, Aventura. Then, a silhouette of a caped Santos emerged in the middle of the stage, from where we soon got better glimpses of his beaming smile and ever-cute, make-you-blush dimples.
The singer/songrwriter was in the best shape ever, with a fresh sun-kissed tan topped with a handsomely groomed, minimal undercut hairstyle. He broke into "Inocente," a song from the latest album. Despite it not being an official single -- more of a clever social media YouTube drop (2.3M views since March) -- the audience knew the song very well.
Santos, along with Prince Royce, has been a key figure in popularizing bachata worlwide. Concert attendee Lorenzo Morales explained the singer's importance this way: "Romeo is a positive role model for men because his music is about how to love a woman and how to dance with her.... He breaks the stereotypes of machismo -- he makes it OK to show affection -- to stop calling women 'hoes,' to treat them like queens."
One could definitely see the "Romeo" in Romeo Santos when he performed his signature serenade, "Besos," during which he picked out a woman to sing to onstage. He's no Georgie Porgie who kissed the girls and made them cry.
Concert-goer Carmen Diaz told me, "That's the beautiful part of this concert: He doesn't choose the typical skinny pretty girl in the audience to go onstage with him when he sings that song."
Also part of Santos' appeal is his ability to bring out the Latino in rappers, as heard on Formula Vol.2 -- just check out his No.1 hit, "Odio," with Drake, on which the Young Money rapper seamlessly raps and sings both in English and en Español. Same thing with Nicki Minaj on the album's heart-thumping third single, "Animales," which he also performed during the 24-song show at Valley View Casino Center.
For the latest Romeo Santos' news visit here. Stay tuned for our exclusive concert footage on an upcoming episode of SoundDiego TV.
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and hip-hop communities get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.