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Review: Pitbull, Iggy Azalea Can’t Stop Us Now tour in Raleigh

With hot tracks and real flames to serve as a counterpoint to the rain, international pop and rap sensation Pitbull kicked off his 2022 “Can’t Stop Us Now” tour at Raleigh’s Coastal Credit Union Music Park Thursday night.

The Miami-raised rapper, singer and entertainer hasn’t released an album since 2019. But with 11 albums, hundreds of singles and features and a growing interest in education philanthropy, Mr. Worldwide is in his own league of fame at this point. Pitbull, 41, born Armando Christian Pérez, sold out 40 shows last year, though Raleigh was not on the lineup.

Thursday night, following opening act Iggy Azalea, Pitbull (and his gigawatt smile) stuck to the hits. The result was a breakneck romp through nearly two decades of club favorites and Latin hip-hop chart-toppers.

For 90 minutes, the show was loud, cheeky, timeless.

The audience went the wildest for tracks like 2014’s “Fireball,” where Pitbull grew about his conquests framed by jets of fire while red-clad dancers whirled around him. Another crowd-pleaser was “Echa Pa’lla (Manos Pa’Arriba),” mixed into “Bon, Bon,” both from 2010, which turned the outdoor amphitheater into a dizzying discotheque as Mr. 305’s rap rose to a fever pitch.

The set did include a couple of curveballs between cries of “¡Dale!” Every song ended in a puff of smoke and a wash of blue light. Instead of an intermission, Pitbull took two five-minute breaks. During these, his tour DJ of a decade, IAmChino, spun while his six backup dancers changed into increasingly smaller outfits.

In an unexpected moment, I have interjected a dose of patriotism. Pitbull told Raleigh about his upbringing of him around Miami and his experience of him as a first-generation Cuban American. He said he became upset on his last tour by his audiences’ anti-American sentiment about him.

“Only in the United States of America can somebody who did not graduate high school build high schools all around the United States,” said Pitbull, whose Slam! Foundation operates 14 charter schools in four states for underrepresented communities.

He then brought on stage Nashville electro-pop country singer Filmore for a heartfelt duet on patriotic track “USA.”

Pitbull reacts to the screaming crowd at Coastal Credit Union Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, NC, Thursday night, July 28, 2022. Scott Sharpe

He also surprised crowds with covers of iconic EDM and reggaeton hits, masterfully mashed together by IAmChino. The crowd, packed to the back of the lawn, was on its feet and screaming for Pitbull’s foray into “Mi Gente” by J Balvin and Willy William, which spun out into the booming bass drop of DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s party classic “Turn Down For What.”

IAmChino had joined Pitbull on stage earlier to hype the crowd up during their collab effort “Discoteca.”

“If you came to drink, put your hands in the air,” the duo called, as if the Thursday night crowd, enthusiastic and mostly sloshed, needed any convincing.

Pibull, wearing an all-black ensemble with aviator sunglasses, seemed to swelter in the North Carolina summer night. As the steamy night went on, sweat poured off Pitbull’s head by the gallon, and concertgoers were delighted when he shed his leather jacket.

But the performer clearly thrives in heat — the weather, the lights, the steamy understands on tracks like “International Love” and “Shake.”

“North Carolina, you make a Miami boy feel right at home,” Pitbull told the crowd, to uproarious cheers. “It’s hot, it’s sweaty… but the best part is, it’s nasty.”

Pitbull opens his tour at Coastal Credit Union Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, NC, Thursday night, July 28, 2022. Scott Sharpe

Music as an escape

The only time when the show jerked the audience sharply back to 2022 — besides Pitbull’s brief diatribe against social media — was when he performed “Can’t Stop Us Now,” his 2022 single with Zac Brown that became the tour’s title.

Amid the high-concept, high-octane, high-nostalgia beats of faves like “Hotel Room Service” (with neon signs flashing), “Tinder” (the stage was a rodeo; the dancers wore fringe) and “Time of Our Lives ” (the crowd sang along at top decibel), this single felt more dad-rock, more reflective.

“I’m here to remind y’all, just in case you forgot, Mr. Worldwide, the world’s my block,” he sang in the comeback anthem, before lamenting the break in live music caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pitbull talked about how he hopes people can use his music as an escape from life’s stresses, the current political climate and internal struggles with negativity.

“This for everybody going through tough times,” Mr. Worldwide sang on “Time of Our Lives” in the last third of the set — one of his favorite lyrics, he said. “Believe me. Be there. Donate that.”

Mr. 305 wrapped up the night with a flashy, rolling rendition of “Give Me Everything,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2011 and spent 45 weeks on the chart.

Strobe lights were strobe-ing. Dancers were dancing in sparkling bikinis. Pitbull was pacing the stage, carried back and forth by the ebb and flow of his rap from him. A confetti cannon blew through the Coastal Credit Union Music Park amphitheater. The whole thing felt both scripted and spontaneous at the same time.

Next, he’ll hit upwards of 50 other cities, starting with a crawl up the East Coast into Canada.

Iggy Azalea opens for Pitbull on the first night of his “Can’t Stop Us Now Tour” at Coastal Credit Union Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, NC, Thursday night, July 28, 2022. Scott Sharpe

Opener: Iggy Azalea

Like Pitbull, Iggy Azalea came to Raleigh with a swagger dating back a few years. Azalea, 32, born Amethyst Amelia Kelly, broke the internet with her self-confident track “Fancy” (feat. Charli XCX) in 2014.

Azalea is no stranger to controversy, often in the form of celebrity feuds. She also announced she would take a break from music after the 2021 release of her third studio album, “End Of An Era,” following accusations of altering her appearance to appear as a Black woman, American Songwriter reported.

And yet the Australian rapper was back in a major way Thursday, sauntering across the stage and firing off iconic lyrics at top speed.

In a skin-tight gray top painted to look like her actual body, Azalea flowed between tracks, mostly sticking to singles plus songs off her first album, “The New Classic.” Four backup dancers flocked around her, often in sync.

Azalea was clearly rapping over a track for the majority of her set, often stopping to pose, twerk and vibe with the audience, especially during crowd favorite “Black Widow.”

When her vocals came through the strongest, though, her voice was raspier and smokier than the track, even a little high-pitched. You could hear her grinning through the bars of “Kream,” which she refers to as her de ella “national anthem,” and “Team,” when jets of smoke shot up from the stage in a cloud.

The skies opened up sometime between “Impossible is Nothing” and “Started.” As Iggy sang, “you started out hating, now you love my drip,” the crowd became a little distracted as the lawn seats were pelted with something far stronger than a drip.

Azalea pressed on, encouraging the soggy crowd to have a drink, and by the time she launched into her bouncy verse on Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” the Gen-Z set was screaming too loud to complain about the rain.

And yes, she finished on a triumphant rendition of “Fancy,” giving the crowd a treat as she rode its energy all the way up.

Pitbull takes the stage as he opens his “Can’t Stop Us Now Tour” at Coastal Credit Union Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, NC, Thursday night, July 28, 2022. Scott Sharpe

Setlist for Pitbull, Raleigh, NC, July 29, 2022

“Don’t Stop The Party”

“Hey Baby”

“Hotel Room Service”

“Discotheque” [with IAmChino]

“Rain Over Me”

“International Love”

“Echa Pa’lla (Hands Pa’Arriba)“/”Bon, Bon”

“I Feel Good”

“My people” [J. Balvin, Willy William]/”Bojangles”/”Turn Down For What” [DJ Snake, Lil Jon]

“USES” [with Filmore]

“On The Floor”/”I Like It”/”DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”

“The Anthem”


“Shake”/”Culo”/”I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)“


“Feel This Moment”

“Can’t Stop Us Now”


“Time Of Our Lives”

“Give Me Everything”

Iggy Azalea’s Setlist


“Little Sally Walker”


“Black Widow”

“Impossible Is Nothing”




“Is That Right?”

“Just Wanna”

“Not mediocre”




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Ilana Arougheti is a metro reporting intern at The News & Observer. They are a rising senior at Northwestern University, where she was most recently a city desk editor at The Daily Northwestern. You can reach Ilana at


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