Musician Pitbull performing at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, Canada on December 10th 2023 © Jamie Taylor

Live Review: Pitbull + Ricky Martin + Enrique Iglesias @ Rogers Arena, Vancouver – December 10th 2023

The one-of-a-kind experience that’s been plastered all over the city streets for months landed at last in Vancouver for a two-night engagement: the Trilogy Tour featuring Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Pitbull. Who knows who put this fever dream of a concert together, but teaming up the OGs of Latino pop created an irresistible package for any fans of the genre. As hot new Latin acts like Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee have taken up the torch and are burning brightly, this triple threat tour did the trick of grabbing attention for these iconic artists skating outside their prime.

With scattershot new music releases in this decade, the trio are somewhat out of their depth in terms of relevance. Despite never really stopping touring, this time around feels like a coming-out-of-retirement party after the aging artists have pursued other ventures in their personal and professional lives. This gig can be placed firmly in the nostalgia category for concert-goers eager to glimpse these beloved artists. Love one or love them all, this unconventional line-up was one to catch.

One can’t help but respect these legends in their own rights for stewarding the genre, bringing the cultural representation of Latino music into the mainstream. It’s hard to imagine when I would have first heard this genre if artists like these hadn’t stolen our hearts in the late 90s and early 00s. But what kind of mark are they making on the world these days? The answer to this is emerging for the masses as the Trilogy makes its way across North America.

One of the three has seemingly been making his mark for all the wrong reasons on this tour, and this is unfortunately Enrique Iglesias. With some pretty strong accusations emerging on the message boards, I was ready to give the prolific singer the benefit of the doubt, assuming a couple of isolated stumbles had been blown out of proportion. Kicking off the back-to-back headline show, Enrique emerged from the smoky cage of laser beams in his signature cap and a simple tee as if stepping through a portal from the early 2000s. Soaking it all the fan love with his arms outstretched on the end of the catwalk, he belted club banger lyrics, “Tonight I’m fucking you!” All seemed to be well and the song soared. Just as I thought, the hype was overblown…

…but things started to go off the rails pretty rapidly in song number two classic ballad, “Be With You”. While he did have some shining moments in the night, his vocals were inexcusably rough across the entire set, and it was a little disconcerting to hear his choruses continuing even as he pulled the mic away from his mouth to outstretch his arms again and again and again. To be sure, his mic was working during songs like “Bailamos”, but the backing track was doing a lot of heavy lifting, to put it politely. It quickly felt more like, “Tonight I’m fucking you over!”

Enrique Iglesias at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, Canada on December 10th 2023 © Jamie Taylor

Not only was the vocal situation a bit bizarre, but his movements on stage were also unexpectedly erratic. He was largely wandering aimlessly around the stage, not quite knowing what to do with himself, running recklessly down the stairs of side stage platforms, standing precariously on the guardrails, lingering uncomfortably long in one corner, staring darkly, and recycling the same 2-3 pointing gestures over and over. For someone whose body of work contains so many songs about dancing, having earned the title of the “King of Dance”, the guy busted exactly zero moves during the performance. Something was awry. 

A highlight of the set was standout Salvadoran percussionist and rapper Gilmar Gomes, who brought the charisma and ability Enrique lacked as part of the rocking 10-piece band. One of his female backup singers got to showcase her unique husky timbre in an intimate duet, but the star made the moment weird by crouching over her as she sat and singing into her crotch, continuing to sing as he embraced her for a long time. The bizarre moves continued as he humped the stage during “Bailando” and his sour vocals peaked in “Escape”. In a high school dance classic from my youth, “Hero”, Enrique did manage to carry off some nice vocals. Still, he inexplicably deposited the mic onto the stage before the chorus even started, having the crowd sing the whole thing, and then not picking it up again into the next verse. It was just plain awkward, as all the fans just wanted to hear his voice. I was staggered to remember how many solid hits the man has in his repertoire, but on this, somehow his first-ever visit to Vancouver, he was just tarnishing them. As he stared up at the confetti cannons jetting out flittering white flakes, I found myself wondering what it was like to be in his head right now, because he seemed to be in a world of his own.

By contrast, Ricky Martin came bursting onto the stage next with great energy and light in his eyes. A troupe of dancers bounded onto the stage along with him, performing sexy and wildly athletic dance formations across his set. His tight live band sounded out crisp and impactful, with blaring brass lines turning up the heat for Martin’s more authentically Latin repertoire. He crooned his Spanish lyrics in a strong tone with “Maria” which first appeared on his debut album in a time before he had cemented his pop identity. He toured us through his rise to fame with “Shake Your Bon Bon” and “She Bangs”, singing about the allures of women in a throwback to his publicly closeted years. What a gift that Martin is out, proud, and living his best life for over a decade now.

Ricky Martin at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, Canada on December 10th 2023 © Jamie Taylor

Ricky proved to be an immaculate showman, pouring himself into every song, and leading the charge of backup dancers with intricate choreo. He was dripping sweat and changed his top a few times before stripping his top off altogether in favour of a flowy silk trench coat over his billowy pants during a ballad. To keep fresh during his high-octane set, he had a new shirt for every song, and the dancers donned several dazzling outfits to fit the mood. In a short dance break, the ladies twirled traditional skirts hypnotically, the men joining in a festive celebration of Latin culture. The dancers swung effortlessly to another style entirely as the songs changed, doing backflips and splits in street dance mode. 

Martin looked larger than life atop a raised platform singing megahit “Living La Vida Loca”, partying with gusto as he belted it out. As the song wrapped, he smiled ferociously, pulsating with happiness as he clenched his fists; his energy was infectious. He took the time to introduce and shout out his excellent band and dancers, before ending on a celebratory note with the World Cup anthem “The Cup of Life”. In his final outfit change, he donned the logo of his charity, The Ricky Martin Foundation, for which is fundraising on this tour with the change to win upgraded seats. It was brilliant to see the man giving back through his wealth and influence in a mission to fight for the human rights of children around the world in this advanced stage of his career. Wishing his fans love, health, and happiness until next time, and promising to return in the new year, Ricky left on a high note. 

Pitbull at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, Canada on December 10th 2023 © Jamie Taylor

After another quick-as-a-flash set change, Pitbull was beckoned to come and turn the party to the sound of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” ringing out by guitar and bassist flanking the stage, and twin shining drum kits raised high. While some concert-goers for whom this third headliner was an added unknown, for the hoards of fans rocking bald caps, shades, and a whole range of superfly suit jackets, the pinnacle of the night had arrived. Pitbull is such an infamous figure, highly memeable, and knows how to produce a hit, but his music is indisputably a change of pace from the other two. I wasn’t even sure how he would pull off his songs live when most depend on collaborations with prolific vocalists. 

In his signature black on black, Mr. Worldwide himself strutted cooly onto the stage and played “Don’t Stop the Party”, backed by a squad of all female dancers in checkered leotards. I was immediately transported back to my younger club days with a dose of “Hotel Room Service” and its deeply engrained chorus of “hotel, motel, holiday inn”, a track where the man does carry the throughline of the song, and he did so with pizazz. For other tracks in his body of work, driven by the likes of Ke$ha and Christina Aguilera, he assumed the role of the hypeman, vibing to random mashups and interjecting with bursts of rap or declarations. He also played up his womanizer image in his interactions with the attractive and scantily clad dancers, which felt oddly archaic, embodying all the objectification rampant in music videos of the early 00s. I guess it’s true that sometimes you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Pitbull at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, Canada on December 10th 2023 © Jamie Taylor

Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” makes everyone scream when it comes on in the club, so you can imagine the reaction it got when Mr. Worldwide busted it out, followed by J-Lo’s “On the Floor”. Featuring on tracks from some of the hottest artists in the business has its perks, as he can get away with padding out his set with other celebs’ number ones. The man also incorporated random bursts from iconic riffs like “Seven Nation Army” (which surely he can’t have had a hand in, right??), essentially playing DJ in the ultimate good time club. His set featured fun and colourful graphics on the massive screens, as well as funky visual distortion to the live stream. It was all very polished and optimized for enjoyment.

What set Pitbull apart from his tourmates as well was his proclivity towards stage banter, popping back up to the central platform to reset after every number to do a little intro into the next. Trying to get deep in a sea of cliches, his segue game was strong, calling out to the crowd that he was “just trying to feel this moment” and that he was having “the time of his life” leading into corresponding songs. I poke fun, but it was nice to see him getting real and showing some depth of purpose, as he passionately spoke about his SLAM! Foundation which strives to provide access to education in underserved communities. Imagine being a little kid and being able to say that you go to Pitbull’s school. Epic. Striving to inspire the next generation that you can turn a negative into a positive, the highly successful music mogul is proving that he can be a role model while still delivering us the sweet release of club hits like “Fireball” and “Timber” with a larger-than-life stage show. 

Overall, it was a mixed bag of a night for the Latino heroes of our generation, but they each left their mark in a variety of ways, showing their present selves to an audience who remembers them from decades ago.

Article written by Krysten Maier

Photos © Jamie Taylor

Owner + Editor In Chief + Concert Photographer

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