Concert Review: Stromae Brings a ‘Multitude’ of Genres to Boston


“Bonsoir ! Vous allez bien ?”

Those were the first words Belgian singer, rapper, and songwriter Paul van Haver, better known by his stage name Stromae, said to greet his fans in Boston’s Agganis Arena on the night of Dec. 7. The multi-hyphenate artist stopped by Boston University for the last date of the U.S. leg of his “Multitude” tour, named after his latest genre-bending album.

The audience answered Stromae’s question — translated as “Are you doing well?” — with resounding cheers. While addressing the crowd conversationally, Stromae alternated between English and French, but of course performed his entirely French discography in his native language. Whether or not audience members were fluent in the language was ultimately a nonissue — they were still hanging on his every word.

Stromae appeared in person after an animated version of himself was shown on screen wearing a lab coat and making music alongside robots. This lighthearted, imaginative intro set the tone for the rest of the night — it was a creative, playful, and completely original concert experience thanks to Stromae’s magnetic stage presence and uniquely mesmerizing visuals.



It’s difficult to define Stromae by genre — it would be reductive to say he is just an EDM artist, or just a rapper. He has the unique ability to amalgamate many genres into a sound that’s all his own; “Multitude,” released earlier this year, is more reflective of this than ever. His supporting band also reflected his dynamic sound, with musicians from all over the world playing alongside him.

Stromae kicked off the concert with “Invaincu,” the first track off “Multitude.” “Invaincu,” which translates to “unbeaten,” has a soaring chorus fit for an arena, which hyped up the crowd to an even higher excitement level.

Stromae explicitly acknowledged that he would be switching between his new and old tracks. Within the first few songs, he performed “Tous les mêmes,” one of his most popular songs to date, off his 2013 album “Racine Carrée.” The minor-key, upbeat EDM track brought the audience to their feet as the synth horns of the chorus swelled and Stromae danced across the stage. “Tous les mêmes,” French for “you’re all the same” shares contrasting male and female perspectives of an arguing couple. Stromae brought all the satire and whimsicality of this energetic chart-topper to life on stage. Throughout the concert, he infused both his vocals and his movements with his highly animated performing style, embodying the varying emotions of each song with his signature vibrato and lively dancing.


Stromae also performed back-to-back two complementary tracks from “Multitude,” which appear alongside each other on the tracklisting: “Mauvais journée” and “Bon journée.” French for “bad day” and “good day,” Stromae used a reclining chair as a prop to reflect the opposing sentiments of these songs. He slumped low in the chair while singing the listless lyrics of “Mauvais journée”; he was then immediately reinvigorated for “Bon journée” and stood on top of the chair as it slid across the stage.

“Boston, are you happy?” he asked in time with the trap-inspired beat.

Other songs performed from “Multitude” included “Mon amour,” which features beautifully blended harmonies in the chorus and “C’est que du bonheur,” a song he wrote about his son. “J’tai donné la vie, toi t’as sauvé la mienne,” he sang in the first verse; “I gave you life, you saved mine.”

“C’est que du bonheur” is a touching song about his love of fatherhood and the circle of life — indicated by an animation behind him portraying a man in all different stages of life, from a crawling baby to a hunched elderly man with a cane. The production design was similarly impressive for “Pas vraiment,” a song about a couple questioning why they’re together; the performance was accompanied by background visuals of domestic moments seen through windows, as if the audience were peeking into their relationship. At the same time, colorful spotlights panned across the arena, showcasing audience members dancing to the song.

Stromae’s hit song “Papaoutai” — translated to “Dad, where are you?” — was one of the biggest crowd pleasers of the night. The profound lyrics, which meditate on his father’s absence from his life, are juxtaposed with the lively synth-heavy track. The lighting and stage design, including several moving screens with shifting geometric patterns, aligned with the increasingly heavy dance beat and further enlivened the performance. The stage design was also quite dynamic for “Formidable,” another fan favorite.

Stromae’s last song before his encore was “Santé,” another track off “Multitude.” Before the performance began, however, the audience was led in a dance tutorial displayed on screen with an animation narrated by the recorded voice of a female instructor. “Step to the right with your right leg, and close your left leg,” she said as the band also demonstrated these dance moves on stage. This quirky instructive interlude was a unique way to get the crowd actively engaged in “Santé,” a high-spirited song featuring a cavanquilho (a small Portuguese guitar) and a bouncy synth melody the audience couldn’t help but dance to.


After “Santé,” Stromae eventually returned to the stage for a highly-anticipated encore. The singer saved his most well-known song for last — “Alors on danse,” an international hit known for its hip-hop/house fusion, an infectious faux-saxophone melody, and an endlessly catchy hook. He built up anticipation by playing another animation on the screen, in which his animated avatar walked up to a keyboard and played the first few notes of the song, which were instantly recognizable to the crowd. The screen went black as Stromae suddenly reappeared: “Do you wanna dance?” he yelled.

The beat dropped and the stage immediately lit up with neon lights and moving screens as the audience screamed in response. “Boston, do you speak French?” he asked before launching into the first verse. A large part of the audience could, in fact, speak French, and anyone else could undoubtedly sing along with the three short words that make up the chorus,“alors on danse” — “so let’s dance.”

Following the unrestrained high energy of the climactic “Alors on danse,” Stromae and his band revisited “Mon amour” for their final performance of the night. This time around, they gathered close together for a stripped-down a cappella version. The audience grew quiet to hear their voices blend together, an intimate experience as their vocals reverberated across the large venue. The serene performance was a fitting coda to the night.

Stromae maintained his humor throughout the entire concert. After their final performance, he told the arena of fans, “It’s over now. You can go.”

In spite of Stromae’s parting words, fans filed out of the arena reluctantly, finding it difficult to leave after such an entertaining, larger-than-life concert experience.

—Staff writer Jaden S. Thompson can be reached at