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Jennifer Lopez made headlines last week with remarks that her time spent judging singers on American Idol improved her own quality of performance.
Curiously, Lopez made no mention of Idol at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City Sunday night, although she did in a previous NJ show at the Prudential Center on July 21 where she said she will “miss it very much, but at the end of the day, this is what I do. This is where I belong — out here with you.”
Could it be that Lopez, who repeatedly coached contestants on the importance of the connection between a performer and his or her audience, is over it already? Maybe so, but in her live show, she seemed to take her own advice to heart.
About an hour into her set, Lopez delivered a moving and touching interpretation of the soft-rock ballad, “Until It Beats No More” — a song recorded for her 2011 CD, Love? At the time, Lopez said the song, about a love that never dies, expressed her feelings for then husband, Marc Anthony, but as the 43-year-old pop singer told the New Jersey crowd, “a lot has changed” over the years.
Set against a video backdrop of Lopez playing with her twin children, the singer gushed that “she finally found true love,” and the song took on a whole new meaning about the unconditional love of motherhood and a vow to love your family until your heart “beats no more.” In that moment, Lopez found her own connection with the emotion of the song and with her fans in the arena. Similarly, a stripped down acoustic version of her first No. 1 hit, “If You Had My Love,” was a sweet and intimate moment.
Sometimes, simply delivering a song without all the bells and whistles is enough, and the show could have used more singing (Lopez’s vocals were sometimes augmented with taped samples, but it’s expected given all the dancing she does) but this is a not what a J-Lo show entails. Make no doubt about it, Lopez grew up in the Bronx with the bright lights of Broadway gleaming in the distance, and little Jenny From The Block is recreating the glitz and glamour of the Great White Way for her “Dance Again” tour.
“Are you all ready to dance with me?” she asked a game and adoring mix of women, men and seasoned gamblers.
Opening the show with her male dancers adorned in top hats, canes and a soft shoe number announcing the arrival of a “beautiful girl,” Lopez made an entrance worthy of Old Hollywood, complete with a greeting of “Hello, Lovers.”
Lopez packed her set with hits, setting the tone early on with her opening numbers, “Get Right,” a sassed up delivery of “My Love Don’t Cost A Thing,” and the Latin-flavored “I’m Into You.”
Those coming for a dose of glitzy, body-hugging outfits, short skirts, feathers and shoe porn were not disappointed. Lopez’s wardrobe costs more than the mortgage payments of mere mortals, and she has the figure to show it all off, working a lengthy catwalk to the center of the audience and using every inch of the stage to flaunt her fly-girl dance moves.
Still, she made plenty of references to her East Coast roots, cheerfully recounting her days growing up in the Bronx and announcing the presence of her mother, Guadalupe, in the crowd.
“She loves to gamble,” she joked (that she does — the Lopez matriarch famously won a $2.4 million jackpot on a slot machine in 2004 at the Borgata).
There were some misfires in the production. A video of Lopez playing peek-a-boo with boy-toy backup dancer Casper Smart set to “Baby, I Love You” (a throwback to the Ben Affleck, Gigli period) was unnecessary, and a choreographed boxing number, no doubt a time-filler for another costume change, was an odd choice (how does an ode to shoes, “Louboutins,” translate to a boxing match?). A moving stage for “Waiting For Tonight” was a tad too busy, but Lopez did her best to thoroughly entertain with a recreation of ‘90s fashions (and a blinged out Yankee hat, which said she got in trouble for sporting in Boston-Red Sox fans have got to chill out) for a medley of earlier hits: “I’m Real/All I Have/’Aint It Funny.”
Still, there was plenty to enjoy in her 90-minute extravaganza-from her athletic, often shirtless backup dancers doing back flips worthy of an Olympic routine, a nod to “I Love Lucy” with a backdrop of “Club Babalu” for the party anthem, “Let’s Get Loud,” to her playing to the Latinos in the audience, shouting out to her “Papis” and delivering the opening refrain of her dance hit, “On the Floor” in Spanish from a raised throne.
An encore of “Dance Again” ended in a rain of confetti, pyrotechnics, and an entire audience dancing as if in a club.
“This is why I love the East Coast,” Lopez told the crowd.
Where J-Lo’s set satisfied the males in the audience, co-headliner Enrique Iglesias provided machismo and eye-candy for the ladies.
Announcing his arrival through bold messages on a video screen (“It’s My Time!” “Are You Ready?”) Iglesias emerged in glorious splendor, dressed simply in jeans, a black t-shirt and a baseball cap. His chiseled features were enough to elicit screams of delight from his legions of female fans, lapping up every bit of his sweaty, jocular physique.
Opening with “Tonight I’m Lovin’ You” (and interspersing the lyrics with the oh, so charming alternate take, “Tonight I’m F—ing You”), Iglesias showered the crowd with laser visuals, confetti, sing-along help via-the video screen (in case you didn’t know the words to the chorus of “I Like How It Feels”) and a full assist via technology from Usher on the techno-romp “Dirty Dancer.”
A few quibbles: Iglesias is a flirtatious and generous performer who loves to get up close and personal with the audience, pulling fans cell phones out of their hands to give them that all important close-up portrait for their Facebook pages. That said, he does not need to pull up portly middle-aged men clearly on a Match.com date on stage. Iglesias picked Bill, a forty-something divorced guy bragging about his 29-year old date, out of the crowd, prompting the big lug (who tried to make an unfunny joke about Iglesias’ much hawked Atlantico Rum) to sing “Stand By Me” center stage. To say it was a waste of time is an understatement, although Iglesias seems to love the personal interplay with fans. He gave equal time to an extroverted 21-year old Jersey-Shore wannabe from Toronto, crooning his ballad, “Hero” to his onstage foil on a stage located in the back of the arena, culminating with a full make-out session that made every girl in the house a tad jealous.
Extra points: Iglesias gave a full nod to Duran Duran with the opening guitar line of “Ordinary World” prior to his hit, “Be With You.”
He then treated the audience to a raucous sweat-induced romp of his hit, “I Like It” before applauding New Jerseyans as “the horniest people in the world,” leading to a reprise of “Tonight I’m F—ing You” one last time in a shower of confetti and inflatable balloons.
J.Lo Set List
Never Gonna Give Up (Video)
Love Don’t Cost A Thing
I’m Into You
Waiting For Tonight
I’m Real/All I Have/’Aint It Funny
Jenny From The Block
Baby I Love You
Hold It Don’t Drop It
If You Had My Love
Until It Beats No More
Let’s Get Loud
On The Floor
Enrique Iglesias Set List
Tonight (“I’m Lovin’ You”)
I Like How It Feels
Stand By Me
Be With You
I Like It
Tonight (“I’m F&#ing You”)
Watch some video of “Waiting For Tonight” from Sunday night’s show:
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