Amid much fanfare and extra-tight security, the American superstar brought her booty-shaking “Dance Again” world tour to Manila last Nov. 26 at the SM Mall Of Asia Arena. Sure, there were skeptics. Apart from the fact that she isn’t really known as a vocal powerhouse, who in his right mind would shell out a whopping five digits for a two-hour concert?
Lots of people, apparently. The Arena was packed to the rafters with celebrities, politicians, mother-daughter tandems, men in their 50s practicing their salsa moves, whole families with young children, and even delegates from the recently concluded Miss Earth pageant. Outside, the red carpet separated the VIPs from the hoi polloi, but inside, everyone melted into one giant antsy audience with a common purpose: To see J.Lo in the flesh. That we did, and more.
The four-part set consisted of approximately 20 songs, including video interludes and encore. The show opened with an old Hollywood glam theme, with an intro video of “Never Gonna Give Up” segueing into the opening trumpet strains of dance groove ditty “Get Right.” Lopez then took off her large white feather cape to reveal a glittering bodysuit that clung to her astounding curves, which one could appreciate all the way up to the nosebleed section.
All trim, toned and tanned, Lopez simply looked amazing for a 43-year-old mother of two. Crafted by Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad, her glittering menagerie of costumes showcased the many different sides and colors of her persona: From silver minx to fiery phoenix, hip-hop hottie in sparkly sweatpants to ethereal goddess swathed in pale gauze, and suit-clad temptress to sultry salsa seductress.
Of course, her getup wouldn’t be complete without her perpetually tousled golden tresses, courtesy of strategically placed electric fans along the length of the T-shaped stage.
She wasted no time flaunting her best assets; she would often pause to pose with her back turned to the camera-happy crowd while gyrating to her early party hits (“Waiting For Tonight” from her 1999 debut “On the 6” and “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” from her 2001 record “J.Lo”) and “I’m Into You” from the 2011 album “Love?”.
She would also reach out to shake hands with the audience members closest to the stage, giving the people on the opposite side a good view of her ample bottom.
The multilevel stage gave her just enough room to strut her stuff, with dancing laser lights alternating with top-to-bottom pyrotechnics and smoke effects. Add to that a full band, backup singers and hot male dancers with clean-shaven heads (who had gone shirtless towards the end of the set as Lopez’s “gift” to the females in the audience).
For her Bronx-themed second act, her dancers put on a mock-boxing display with her opening message: “Get back up when you fall down.” This was followed by a hot hip-hop medley that included her rise-to-fame anthem “Jenny from the Block” and Murder remixes of “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny” with Ja Rule. This blast-from-the-past part proved to be a crowd pleaser, as these were the old favorites that had put “J.Lo” on the music map.
She brought the tempo down to a slow, sensual rhythm during the third act, starting with a sweet clip of her and hunky boyfriend/backup dancer Casper Smart being all “lovey-dovey” to “Baby I Love U!”
This was followed by the funky “Hold It, Don’t Drop It” and another medley consisting of “Brave,” I’m Glad” and “Secretly.”
For the beautiful acoustic version of her smash debut, “If You Had My Love,” she surprised the audience by picking a female member of the audience to go onstage and sing with her. That heartwarming feeling was carried on to the next number, “Until It Beats No More,” accompanied by a video slideshow of her with her 4-year-old twins.
Switching back to party mode, Lopez kicked off the fourth and final act with the Latin-infused “Let’s Get Loud” to get everyone on their feet. Another surprise moment was when someone threw a folded Philippine flag onstage and she draped it around her shoulders, even borrowing a camera from the audience to take a self-portrait before giving it back to the owner. “Mahal kita,” she then declared in perfect diction, to the roaring approval of the crowd.
Calling out to the men in the audience (who were understandably few and far between), she hit the finale with “Papi,” followed by the Pitbull collaborative track “On the Floor.” She came back onstage for the infectious power encore, “Dance Again,” which she danced with Smart onstage, but not before giving the world her final message that began with the staunch declaration: “I still believe in love.”
Money well spent
Was it worth it? Yes. For the thousands of starstruck fans that night, it was hard-earned money well spent. After all, you wouldn’t spend so much on concert tickets if you weren’t a fan, or at least wanted to see the artist in person that badly.
Yes, we liked what we saw. She’s got a great set of pipes as well, all things considered. But in reality, we got much more than the jaw-dropping eye and ear candy Lopez had provided. Not only was it the performance of a lifetime, the concert was also a beautifully crafted chronicle of her life’s journey—her rise to fame, the hardships and heartbreak, her relentless quest to find true love. That sincere sentimentality, wrapped in highly contagious pop tunes and high-energy beats, is definitely something that Pinoys would love to dance to, over and over again.
“Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again World Tour Live in Manila” is presented by Vista Land, Zenea and PLDT Fibr in cooperation with Radio High 105.9 and MMI.