Stromae (born Paul Van Haver) is a Belgian artist who first became popular in early 2010s. He gained huge international success quickly and in 2014, he was the first French-singing artist to sell out Madison Square Garden. After releasing two albums, he was called one of the most unique artists in recent history and soon after that… he disappeared out of sight. Fans speculated that the reason was his mental health, which he speaks about in his songs, but there also may be some other reasons. He never appeared in public again until 2018.
If you’ve never heard his music before, at first glance, you may think that what he does is just some dance music.
But, Stromae never plays that simple.
Behind one of his dance hits “Papaoutai”, he spells out his life story, talking about his father who was killed in Rwandan genocide in 1994. In the song called “Mon amour”, it’s not about love… he speaks about life’s struggles, stereotypes, mental issues, discrimination, and after that… he dances.
After eight years, he is finally back in U.S., promoting his new album Multitude. His arena tour includes two Madison shows, which says a lot. People have been waiting for him all these years. In Los Angeles, he performed at the Shrine Auditorium on October 28th, 2022.
Stromae says that he sings in his native language, because music has no barriers. But, he won’t add that it’s his music which has no barriers and his performance doesn’t need any translation. He is not only a unique author, but also a very talented performer.
Every song is a story and a role he plays.
You just keep watching his entertaining pantomime like you really understand every word (when you don’t) and in the middle realize that you need one more show just to listen and dance. Well… maybe that’s why he performs twice in many cities. Stromae translates his music into reality through his shows, an important part even when your audience speaks the same language. He opens these songs from the other side and you just fall in love with them and undoubtedly relate.
He ended his show at The Shrine giving credits not only to his musicians, but to all the people who work behind the scenes — all the managers and crew, thanking every single person by their names. After that, Stromae performed the last song a capella in front of the silent audience. When the lights go down, you are not the same person anymore.
Photography by Julia Kovaleva