My cousins in Belgium tipped us on Stromae a couple years ago and then about a year ago told my sisters and I he would be coming to the US and that we must go to his performance. I bought my tickets for his Philadelphia September show back in February, only to learn in August that that was cancelled. So, I did what anyone else would have done which is I bought tickets for his Manhattan show this past Thursday and maneuvered schedule and transportation acrobatics to get there and back. So now I’m nursing a wicked cold (I guess my body is too old for Pope parading and Stromae concerting all in one week and the dust on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the cold windy rains of Hurricane Joaquin did not help), but it was so worth it.
Stromae’s music does not particularly fit a single genre (EDM, hip-hop) and he sings in French. But his songs are intelligent, thoughtful, and very danceable so it didn’t take me long to become a fan. In fact when my cousins first mentioned him, I realized I already liked his song Alors on Danse even though I wasn’t aware of who he was. It also didn’t hurt that he is multicultural – Belgian with a father from Rwanda, and has his own sense of style, which I’m not saying I like, but he does own it square with no apologies!
The show was at the Madison Square Garden. A friend had joked that they would give him a little theatre because no-one knows who he is. But not only did Stromae perform in the main hall, he sold out! Apparently, the Belgian Prime Minister who was in town for United
Nations meetings was also in the audience. Yes, I roll with the
big-wigs. Impressive, huh? Stromae has become one of the few – a French-speaking artist headlining at the prestigious Garden in a foreign language. Honestly, I was impressed. The crowd though, at least those near me, seemed to be European expatriates and Africans like myself, so I guess he has a long way to go if he wants to cross over into the true American mainstream, but as I said, he SOLD OUT, in Madison Square Garden, so bravo!
I was in Section 205 in row 3 which is way up there, but with my super duper camera I was able to see and capture Stromae’s facial expressions during his performance which really added to the experience. Next time, I will definitely be closer. This time though, when he sang Formidable, I had the vantage point of seeing the misty venue lit up by mobile phone flashlights swaying to the song. He saved both Alors en Danse and Papaoutai for the end being wheeled out in a plastic case in an outfit reminiscent of the video, and I swear a curvy young woman next to me was having a melt-down. She was whipping her blond long hair into my face and her body was contorting while she was having what I believe to be an out of body experience crying and belting out the lyrics simultaneously. In fact, a family with two young children got up to leave (to escape the crowds and put the kids to bed presumably) and she reached out with both hands onto the man yelling orgasmically “thank you so much for inviting us” and I could feel his wife thinking “get your grubby teenage hands off my husband!” Yeah…
Suffice it to say, the concert was that good and Stromae is dope! I wish him luck taking America and convincing Americans that fries, crescents, and wine are Belgian not French!