“It’s difficult to express what I’m feeling at this moment, and I managed to do the possible and impossible to offer you the best bachata show in history,” Romeo Santos asserted during his sold-out concert at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium on Saturday (Sept. 21).
More than 82,000 people witnessed the self-proclaimed King of Bachata -- the first Latino artist to headline MetLife -- take the centuries-old Dominican genre into further uncharted territory. Like royal, Santos brought forces together by uniting an impressive all-star line-up of surprise guests, including Cardi B, Ozuna, Aventura, and El Chaval. Together they performed modern and classic bachata hits in support of Santos’ fourth studio album, Utopia, a true-to-tradition bachata album that peaked at No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart
The night commenced with a touching video montage that honored the Dominican folk legends of yesteryear, spanning through bachata’s evolution and coming full circle with Aventura, the now-iconic Bronx band that first made Santos into a star. The singer arrived to the stage rocking a spiffy leather trench coat, rugged jeans, and a tropical-styled silk shirt. He winked at the crowd, blew kisses, and gyrated his hips while lifting his coat to showcase his assets, and screaming roars of mainly female concert-goers echoed throughout the stadium.
Clusters of fans proudly waved their flags of origin and confirmed their attendance when Santos did roll-call, name-checking many Latin countries. “Dominicano soy/ I am Dominican,” Santos sweetly crooned after, over beautiful glowing keys, the opening ballad to his latest album. “Soy bachatero y lo llevo en la sangre. Le canto al amargue por la gracia de Dios/ I am bachatero and I carry it in my blood. I sing amargue through God’s grace.” He then began to usher in the pioneering amargue (or Dominican blues, bachata’s original name) veterans for a series of poignant duets.
“Not every bachatero that impacted my life and my career is here tonight. Not everyone. But I still guarantee that you are in for a splendid time,” Santos said in Spanish. And that was no understatement. The singer shared the spotlight with his idols, which built for a triumphant moment in bachata history, as he managed to elevate the once rural art form to the top of the global charts.
Romeo Santos enthusiasts know about his countless accomplishments -- the first Latino to headline the Yankee Stadium, the first to bring bachata to the global stage, the list seems endless -- but to see how respect was honored was indeed a sight to marvel at.
Slinky nylon guitars interplayed gorgeously with silky bongos as lovelorn singer Zacarías Ferreira entered the stage to lend his vocals on “Me Quedo.” Heartbreak crooner Joe Veras stepped in next to accompany Santos on the ballad of “Amor Enterrado,” followed by more legends like Raulin Rodríguez, Frank Reyez, and duo Monchy & Alexandra.
“You bless us tonight. Your contributions marked an era for bachata,” Santos mused at one point.
He not only invited these bachata trailblazers to sing Romeo Santos songs, but gave these masters the chance to step into the limelight on their own to share their classics as Santos leaned back to enjoy them while sipping from a glass decanter. Even reggaeton pioneers Wisin y Yandel joined the celebration, which for a moment helped turn the intimate night into a perreo party.
There were many moments that built for an unforgettable experience, but it’s grand finale was definitely icing on the cake, which included a coveted feature by none other than fellow bi-racial Dominicanos, Cardi B and Ozuna. The “Bodak Yellow” rapper shared her pipes to one of the most celebrated songs of Latin music history -- “Obsesión” by Aventura -- as Ozuna proved his genre-versatility while enlivening fans through his heavenly voice.
With the help of this powerful cast of Dominican bachateros and allies, Santos marked another big moment for bachata that will certainly go down in history for the genre’s continued and formidable evolution.