FOXBOROUGH — Gillette Stadium closed out its 2023 string of concerts with a history-making event — the first concert headlined by an artist whose primary language is Spanish. That artist, the Medellín-born singer-songwriter Karol G, has been a leading figure of the Latin music boom for the past few years, and this year in particular. In 2023, she’s released two projects (“Mañana Será Bonito” and its accompanying mixtape, “Mañana Será Bonito (Bichota Season)”), appeared on the star-studded companion album to “Barbie,” performed on “Saturday Night Live,” and reached her US chart peak with the joyfully vengeful reggaeton cut “TQG,” a collaboration with fellow Colombia-born pop force Shakira.
That serpentine track opened Karol G’s splendid set on Thursday, a two-plus-hour tour of her catalog that showed off her fierce dance moves, vocal versatility, and stadium-size charm. Hung together by a Morgan Freeman-narrated animated fable about a lost mermaid on a mission to reclaim her sense of purpose — or “Bichota” — after a heartbreak, Karol G’s concert was a dazzling display of why she’s come to dominate the Latin pop world since releasing her debut album, the prophetically titled “Unstoppable,” in 2017.
Karol G’s music is rooted in reggaeton, the blend of hip-hop, electronic music, and reggae that initially crossed over in the United States in the mid-’00s through artists like Daddy Yankee before hitting the top of the charts in 2017 with Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito.” Backed by a flock of dancers and a tightly wound all-woman band, Karol G powered through more than 30 songs, telling the story of her evolution into a powerhouse of femininity through song, dance, and effusive crowd work.
A good chunk of Karol G’s set on Thursday was filled with reggaeton and reggaeton-adjacent songs, thumping tracks that commanded the fervent audience to dance, sing along, and augment the brightly hued visuals with bracelets that had pulsing LED lights attached. But she also gave herself ample space to show off her musical range on crowd-pleasing tracks like the feather-light “Mientras Me Curo Del Cora,” a gentle ode to bouncing back that interpolates Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 smash “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and the love-drenched ballad “Ocean,” as well as cuts like “Gucci los Paños,” which brings the resonant brass and crisp acoustic guitars of música Mexicana into Karol’s mix. The jubilant “Mañana Será Bonito” hit “Provenza,” meanwhile, takes rhythmic cues from Afrobeats, but Karol G’s vocal nestled right into its synth-sizzled remix by the superstar Dutch DJ Tiësto, which closed the night and Gillette’s wide-ranging, spectacle-heavy 2023 musical lineup.
With Young Miko. At Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Thursday