Stromae’s Masterful, Weird Performance Was Mostly Lost on Las Vegans

Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan, April 16

Stromae | Photo by Erik Kabik

Stromae | Photo by Erik Kabik

In a slightly altered universe, Stromae would be a Las Vegas star. The Belgian singer-songwriter-rapper is a showman in the old tradition, but one who incorporates the sounds and topics of today.

His performance was as much theatrical as it was musical, with multiple costume changes and highly expressive dancing. Stromae used his tall, skinny build to its full effect, which often led to him resembling a preppy Jack Skellington. He didn’t just sing and dance, he became the characters in his songs. In “Formidable,” he was a love-lorn wretch, staggering around the stage until he collapsed and a bandmate dragged him away. In “Papaoutai,” he was a mannequin (a la his music video) that was carried onstage and placed in front of the microphone. His voice was rich and deep, and his audience interaction was charismatic.

This was a world-class act, and it’s no surprise that Stromae is a superstar in Europe. Unfortunately, his stardom was lost on Las Vegas audiences (the majority of concertgoers were French-speakers). Despite the fact that so much of his performance had universal appeal, something was lost in translation. Here’s hoping that by his next U.S. tour, we can find a way to connect with this great performer. ★★★✩✩

Photos by Erik Kabik/

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