Karol G Hits The O2 Arena – And Proves That London Is A Latin City

A stunning night with the Colombian icon...

At a recent appearance on Hot Ones, Colombian megastar Shakira revealed that taking a 30-foot cobra onstage during her first world tour, 2002’s Tour of the Mongoose, almost bankrupted her.

Over twenty years later, her Colombian compatriot and co-collaborator on their Grammy-winning song, ‘TQG’, Karol G, wasn’t fazed about pulling out all the stops on her Mañana Será Bonito world tour. Her two-date stop at the O2 featured pyrotechnics, massive inflatable mermaids and robotic sharks, and an animated introductory film narrated by Morgan Freeman.

Now touring her fourth album, the Medellín singer opened with ‘TQM’, prompting mass singalongs from a largely Latin crowd at the O2 Arena. Karol knows London is a Latin city; her audience here is clad in the singer’s characteristic pink cowboy hats and sparkling netted t-shirts, singing each of the reggaeton star’s pop hits word-for-word.

There are some nice touches: the glowing synchronised wristbands illuminated bright green during the Feid-featuring ‘Friki’—a nod to his signature colour. The epic introduction of Karol’s crowning title ‘La Bichota’ before the hit ‘Oki Doki’ (this is where the shark features), and the necessary intimate moments to sing face-to-face with her fans (‘Ocean’).

Many of Karol’s biggest hits are duets (out of ‘Mañana Será Bonito’s 17 songs, only 7 are solo), and while guests were brought out on several stops during the world tour (Pabllo Vittar, Bad Gyal, Young Miko), London wasn’t in for such treats (I mean, wouldn’t it have been epic to bring Leona Lewis out for the ‘Bleeding Love’ cover ‘Contigo’?). But this is perhaps an unfair criticism—Karol is a superb showman and can take command of her songs, able to switch up to full stadium confidence and dial down to small-gig intimacy.

It’s an extremely inclusive show, to the point that it may lose cohesiveness at times. We’re in the throes of a sensual reggaeton show (‘Qlona’, ‘Amargura’, ‘Cairo’, ‘Provenza’), then switch to a Disney-style singalong (‘Mañana Será Bonito’, ‘Mientras Me Curo Del Cora’). But it’s part of Karol’s brand: sexy, but approachable; a cercanía that Latin pop divas exude. At this show, she provides a haven for London’s Latin diaspora—friends, family, kids, teens—a sense that everyone here is welcome, and we all leave warm and fuzzy.

After all, ‘Mañana Será Bonito’ is an album that exudes optimism, which is fitting for London’s first proper Summer-y June day, and Karol G gifts us some extra sunshine.

Words: Charis McGowan
Photography: Chloe Newman

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