Music Reviews

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Madison Square Garden, New York
Monday, Oct. 8

Like a true gentleman, Marc Anthony assumes the opening slot for his shows with wife Jennifer Lopez, here embarking on her first-ever concert tour. But the gracious gesture might not be doing her any favors. Whereas the veteran Latin singer produced musical fireworks in his galvanizing, mostly Spanish-language set, the ones set off in hers were strictly literal.

Of course, the comparison isn't exactly fair. Lopez probably would be the first to admit that she doesn't come close to Anthony's voice or interpretive skills, not to mention his live performing experience. But her dance-heavy material, leavened with several songs from her Spanish-language release "Como Ama una Mujer," is infectiously rhythmic, and her hourlong showcase demonstrated that she's more than capable of headlining the sort of theatrical extravaganza required on the pop diva arena circuit.

Heavily choreographed, lavishly costumed and featuring the requisite pyrotechnics and video self-homage, her set -- featuring such hit tunes as "Waiting for Tonight," "Jenny From the Block" and "Let's Get Loud" -- kept the audience's cell phone cameras in constant operation.

Wearing flowing garments and dancing in not particularly athletic fashion, the singer did nothing to dispel the rumors of her pregnancy. Her thin voice mostly is serviceable for the material (with the ballads being notable exceptions), though there were times when it seemed to be aided via electronic means.

Anthony, on the other hand, requires no such help in his salsa-heavy set. His magnificent voice was beautifully showcased on such numbers as "Aguanile" and "Hasta Que Te Conoci," and his years of touring have made him a master of the dramatic gesture. When a Puerto Rican flag was thrown to him by an audience member during "Preciosa," he sang a verse while huddled underneath it to rapturous cheers.

The show ended with exactly what the fans wanted: two numbers, "Por Arriesgarnos" and "No Me Ames," performed as duets. Watching these two intensely charismatic and successful performers cooing lovingly to each other and kissing at the end of each song, Bennifer seemed but a distant memory.
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