Julio Iglesias at the O2 by Michelle Geraghty-2485

Julio Iglesias at the O2, Dublin, 15 May, 2014

This was the first visit of Julio Iglesias to Ireland in 32 years.  Rumours of a poor-selling concert seemed unfounded as the O2 was almost full, albeit with the upper levels closed off.

The Russian singer Alex Cogan made for a slick and professional opening act, singing a selection of power-pop, ballads and show tunes in a strong voice.  He shared a backing band with Julio, so once he was finished they simply remained on the stage and within a few minutes Senor Iglesias took the stage to a very warm welcome from the crowd.

One presumes this Dublin crowd was a typical Julio audience – probably 80% female and mainly people in their 40s-70s.  And herein lay one of the problems with what was a somewhat inconsistent performance.  The concert was of considerable appeal to those who know his music well, and realise that Julio is now 72.  But for anyone expecting the dynamic lothario that we remember from the ’70s, or for any random music fans expecting a powerful engaging crowd pleasing performance, there was bound to be some disappointment.

So, what DID we get?  We got a slick professional band, with good arrangements of most of Julio’s well known Spanish and English language songs, albeit perhaps with too many shimmering ’80s keyboard-parts for some tastes.  We got three glamorous backing singers.  We got a duet with the support singer (twice actually, due to a broken microphone the first time), plus we got some excellent tango dancing from a pair of professional dancers.

Julio himself definitely still has charisma.  And he still has quite a good voice.  However, he remained somewhat static and to the back of the stage in a badly lit set-up (it looked like he suffers from bad back pain) and was prone to singing off-mic occasionally and a few lyric flubs, plus the soundman seemed to mix the lead vocals with too much echo.  One could forgive these issues though, after all, it’s a live show and we were in the presence of the biggest selling Latino artist of all time.

Julio is a likeable personality.  One gets the impression that he has some self-awareness regarding his very particular public image and he delivers his songs and broken-English banter with humour, much as one would expect.

The set itself was probably about one third Spanish language and one third English language, as well as some French and Italian songs to make up the difference. He even sang one song in Galician, Canto del Galicia.

Other non-English language highlights included the sprightly AmorCorrientesMammy Blue and a nice rendition of Jacques Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas.  He does not seem quite as comfortable singing in English, but made reasonable stabs at the likes of Always on my Mind and Let it be Me, although the audience seemed more engaged when he sang George Michael’s Careless Whisper.

It may have been a controversial performance, but it was an interesting experience to see this music legend, perhaps slightly past his best, but still on the road nonetheless.

Julio Iglesias Photo Gallery

Photos : Michelle Geraghty