We at Crack were concerned that Somerset House, a palatial listed building in the heart of London’s old-world Strand, might be a cast net for casuals that extend Catalan sensation Rosalía the same polite murmurs of approval that have plagued so many shows in its historic courtyard.
Thankfully, we called it wrong. The air is punctured throughout with queenly cries of “reina”. One tall older man in a Colombian national football shirt is sob-singing his heart out to opener Pienso En Tu Mirá. There are fans, still very much drunk-after-work Brits, who are making a concerted effort to keep up, even as some of the linguistic nuance is trampled underfoot in a slurry of post-work pints. The atmosphere is befitting of Rosalía’s position as this long decade winds to a close: coronated superstar of the next.
Heritage or no, this 1500 capacity space is a step down for the Catalonian, deviating from a post-El Mal Querer festival victory lap where she’s been playing to 50,000 people at a time. Unforced moments provide charm you don’t always get at scale: gifting a flamenco fan to an overheating fan in the front row; knowingly donning a set of Bad Bunny-style ultra-thin trendy sunglasses for a hit-heavy section that includes Brillo and Con Altura and; breathlessly enthusing in between songs about teenage years spent failing to master the English language in London.
Twenty tracks are knocked out in an hour, as Rosalía headbangs like a hesher, slides over to punch kicks in on El Guincho’s SP400 and plunges up and down her vocal register as if she was falling through a trapdoor before being hoisted back again. She positions tales of money, men and mistrust in a grander historical battle of good and evil, selling them with unbeatable emotion and conviction. When she returns for an encore, performing an acapella rendition of new single Dio$ No$ Libre del Dinero, it feels as if she primarily wanted to be back out with her core fans, her people. They are the ones constantly generating deafening screams with every flick of the hand, contortion of her body or delivery of a kiss-off line. For music this dynamic, that is a lot of screams.
The choreography matches the music’s alchemy of flamenco, pop and R&B. Six dancers accentuate Rosalía’s movement by joining hands as a chorus line, moving as a phalanx, or carrying the mic and freeing her arms while she does crucifix poses. This is essentially an arena show in an academy clothing. Atop a raised plinth of LEDs, the entire mood is changed from cherry blossom pink to vengeful red as slickly as a finger click (or a Malamente hand clap). There are stunning moments when the stage declutters, the beats fall, the visuals go dark, the crowd shuts up and – powerhouse voice utterly belting out – it’s all Rosalía. And truly, it always is.