Whether on a scooter, all-fours, or mounted on an interlocked human motorcycle, Rosalía was riding high at the first of two performances at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night (September 19th). It was just the second concert on the US leg of her ongoing “MOTOMAMI World Tour” (tickets here), and the 29-year old Spanish singer-songwriter was completely locked in.
The show opened with a total sensory annihilation that seemed fully intended to knock the audience out of their saddles in preparation for the night’s exhilarating and unpredictable thrill ride. The tour’s strobed-out intro song “Matsuri-Shake” by the Japanese all-girl punk band Ni Hao proceeded with such an unrelenting and destabilizing force that the air seemed to be sucked out of the theater, only to be immediately replenished when thunderous engine rumbles heralded Rosalía’s arrival on hands and knees, flanked by her dance squad of “motopapis” in glowing motorcycle helmets.
Rising above the crew and dispatching her headgear, Rosalía launched into the MOTOMAMI opener “SAOKO,” whose demanding vocal swerves and sudden twists into jazz were navigated effortlessly by the singer and accomplished dancer.
Rosalía showcased that same command through her constant interplay with a roaming steadicam that gave the whole production a cinematic feel. The vocalist typically stood behind a stark-white sheet with two adjacent screens projecting the 360-degree view of the stage, which sometimes revealed the rabid, adoring crowd while also inviting them in distressingly close for her most emotionally wrenching moments.
This all-encompassing affair was on display early as Rosalía threw out her viral, unimpressed face, despite clearly having a blast during “BIZCOCHITO,” or while she literally pulled herself up from the ground on an Abel-less rendition of the unrequited love banger, “LA FAMA.”
There was a constant steady hand felt as Rosalía balanced her catalog’s fun, party vibes with her more stripped-down, solo material. After telling the audience “I fucking love Washington Heights” and calling New York “one of the greatest cities in the world,” she rolled up the sleeves of her stylish black-and-white biker jacket, strapped on a guitar, and steered into her 2020 acoustic single, “Dolerme.” The rippling number gave way to earth-shaking choreography in a mash-up of songs from MOTOMAMI and 2018’s El Mal Querer, followed by one of the night’s most epic spectacles on her latest album’s title track, in which her motopapis formed a motorcycle with their bodies that Rosalía then mounted and continued performing.
With most songs barely pushing three minutes, the set never lingered on any setup for too long. The motopapis disengaged from their formation and lifted the singer in a Christ-like pose to a platform to deliver the gripping emotional ballad, “G3 N15.” In one minute, she was bounding around the stage for the colorful Tokischa collab “Linda,” or jumping into the crowd and getting kissed by fans for her Bad Bunny feature “LA NOCHE DE ANOCHE,” and in the next, she was stoic on a barber’s chair, chopping off her own braid during “DIABLO.” The show found a bit of sanctuary in the singalong “so, so good” hook of “HENTAI,” in which the white background opened up to bright hillside slowly fading into sunset.
On the sole inclusion from Rosalía‘s 2017 debut album Los Ángeles, “De Plata” became an instant highlight not only for the singer’s exceptionally spellbinding performance against a sole, rugged guitar melody, but the stunned silence of the Radio City crowd in between her vocal runs. In a hilarious tension release, she wisely decided to lull the audience back to this universe with the MOTOMAMI track “Abcdefg.”
The night’s unbeatable energy booster came during a medley of her many features, including “Relación’ with Sech and “TKN” with Travis Scott, during which she invited several fans onstage. The crowd-pleasing collection was capped by the MOTOMAMI+ single, “DESPECHÁ,” and transitioned smoothly into a mini-medley between the fellow fresh track “AISLAMIENTO” and a restyled verse from The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” remix that featured the singer.
Rosalía ripped through “MALAMENTE” despite some initial in-ear monitor issues that she described as her “voice appearing and disappearing,” then smoldered her way through her cover of Justo Betancourt’s “DELIRIO DE GRANDEZA.” She showed no signs of winding down during the heated choreography and fish-eye lens face-downs on “Con Altura,” and after a few minutes break, rolled into the encore.
The singer and her motopapis returned on scooters before launching into “CHICKEN TERIYAKI,” easily one of the most welcomed songs of the night considering her numerous shout-outs to “Nueva York.” She kept the audience guessing with her follow-up, the MOTOMAMI album closer “SAKURA,” which positioned her at the corner of the stage against a projection of falling snow and elicited yet another palpable silence from the crowd.
She cruised off with “CUUUUuuuuuute” in a strobe-filled finale that offered one last reminder of everything Rosalía can do: leading the charge over rapturous percussion, she pulled off some final impeccable balladeering that shifts at hairpin turns. Finally, she gave one more knowing glance to the audience, inviting them out for the next ride.