Martin, Iglesias arena double bill brings back Toronto’s big indoor shows

Two music legends reboot concert series at Scotiabank Arena

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When are two ‘90s Latin pop heartthrobs better than one?

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When they are Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias, who played the first of two shows at Scotiabank Arena Thursday night.

The appearances of 49-year-old Martin of Puerto Rico and the 46-year-old Iglesias of Spain became even more important in the eyes of their screaming and dance-happy Toronto fans as it also meant the return of large scale indoor concerts to the city.

Scotiabank Arena officials confirmed it had been 580 days since the last concert at the venue, and not a moment too soon — judging from the ecstatic reception.

The last time I saw a big show indoors was Dec. 2019 when I caught Celine Dion perform the first of two nights at Scotiabank Arena, so it was an equally exciting — if slightly trepidatious outing for me.

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When you’ve only been around a handful of people for a very long time, thousands can be intimidating.

And almost two years later, a lot has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic from how we get our tickets (sent to mobile phones only,) enter the arena (you have to show proof of double vaccination and your government issued ID and can only bring a small purse of a certain size so I just left mine at home,) and what we do once inside (mandatory masks although it was really hit and miss once people got to their seats and started singing and dancing.)

The good news is that it only took me about 10 minutes to enter the venue Thursday night, instead of waiting for much longer at times at the will call box office to get my hard ticket.

As for social distancing, that was hit and miss too — with some rows completely empty and others seemingly packed.

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The current rules for indoors concerts is the lesser of either 50% capacity or 10,000 people, but when it comes to Scotiabank Arena that’s pretty much the same thing.

Both Martin and Iglesias, singing in English and Spanish, favoured big bands, large stages and major light shows although the former added dancers, drummers and costume changes into the mix — he began in black leather shorts and ended in a black puffy jacket — while the latter was big on audience participation and twice ventured onto a small stage at the back of the floor to get closer to fans.

Both sets were hour-long affairs — don’t forget they’re both dads now, with four kids for show opener Martin and three for show closer Iglesias — but there were encores too with Iglesias delivering a slightly longer performance.

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Martin crowd-pleasers included the set-opening Livin’ la Vida Loca, Lola, Lola, She Bangs, Nobody Wants to Be Lonely (with a video appearance by Christina Aguilera), Maria and encore favourite The Cup Of Life.

The man can still move on stage like few others can.

Iglesias, who reminded Toronto he’s once lived in city when he was 17 to record his first album — “I couldn’t get a date,” he joked, delivered such standouts as I Like How It Feels (with fire bursts), Bailamos, Be With You, Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You,) Hero and I Like It with big, white balloons dropping from the ceiling during the encore.


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