Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias need each other.
The 43-year-old Lopez, who has done surprisingly little touring during her lengthy career, is still learning the ropes onstage. She lacks stage presence, yet compensates by delivering big production numbers and dance routines.
The 37-year-old Iglesias has charisma, but not a strong singing voice. Plus, he sabotages his set list by including too many disposable dance-pop anthems, which often sound like Cher throwaways.
Yes, they both have holes in their games. But on their co-headlining tour, which touched down on Wednesday night at HP Pavilion, Lopez and Iglesias collectively have enough to offer to keep fans entertained.
Backed by an eight-piece band, Iglesias was the first of the two co-headliners to take the stage. During his roughly 75 minute set, the Spanish-born singer, who's the son of legendary crooner Julio Iglesias, did one thing far better than anything else -- connect with the fans.
Iglesias, who clearly lacks dear ol' dad's platinum pipes, trotted out one numbing electro-dance ditty after another -- including "Dirty Dancer" and "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)," a tune that also is known by a more vulgar title. Those selections, both of which hail from 2010s "Euphoria," were certainly well-received, but they were far from memorable.
It was only when Iglesias began interacting with the crowd that the show turned into something special.
He spotted one fan -- with cutout pictures of Iglesias stapled to his hat -- and called him up onstage. The fan, 37-year-old Carlos from El Salvador, was all nerves as he talked with his hero. So, Iglesias decided that some liquid courage was needed, and proceeded to pour several shots of liquor straight into the fan's mouth. The two then joined forces on what was likely the worst version of the Ben E. King favorite "Stand by Me" ever sung -- and it was also surely one of the most endearing.
He'd do a similar trick during "Hero," as he called a female fan up to slow dance onstage. It's hard to name a sappier, more overwrought ballad than "Hero," yet the fan's undeniable enthusiasm -- she practically melted before our very eyes -- made it feel utterly poignant.
While Iglesias' set was a fairly low-frills affair, Lopez went the opposite direction and put on a big-budget spectacle worthy of Madonna or Britney Spears.
The best part of the set was the opening segment, which proved, beyond a doubt, that the singer knows how to make a grand entrance. It was something straight out of an old Busby Berkeley Hollywood musical -- as eight men in tuxedos and top hats entered first and began immediately singing about the woman of their dreams. Then the Bronx beauty came into sight, raised up through the top floor of the stage, wearing a glamorous outfit and looking every bit the megastar.
It was hard to remember what she sang during the first half of the show, since the music almost always took a back seat to the big theatrics. My notes contain a few song titles -- such as "Love Don't Cost a Thing," "Waiting for Tonight" and "Jenny From the Block" -- but mainly they consist of information about the many costume changes, theatrics and dance routines.
J.Lo, who quick "American Idol" after serving as a judge for past two seasons, most certainly can dance. She had little problem keeping up with the younger hoofers onstage. Yet, her dance routines and big production numbers, which often came across as cold and distancing, rarely inspired the same enthusiasm as witnessed during Iglesias' set. It's pretty safe to say that the majority of this mostly female crowd came out on Wednesday night primarily to see Lopez's tour mate.
Yet, they also got Lopez. And she wasn't bad. Neither was Iglesias. Together, they managed to do what probably neither one could've accomplished individually -- and that's to keep fans (mostly) entertained throughout the evening.
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