Thursday, December 20, 2012
Jennifer Lopez Conquers Sydney
There's nothing like an extraordinary concert to make you see an artist in a completely different light. I was always a casual Jennifer Lopez fan but thought she was a vocal lightweight who relied on good looks and clever producers to remain semi-relevant. But I walked away from her show at All Phones arena on Saturday in awe. Jenny is one of our last great pop stars - someone who can entertain you for two hours with good, old-fashioned singing and dancing. What a relief to be spared the clumsy theatrics of Gaga or the soulless bump n' grind of Rihanna. J Lo just looked like a goddess, said a few kind words and danced her arse off. It was one of the best concerts I've seen in a long time.
For someone of Jennifer's stature, the Dance Again tour is actually quite modest production-wise. There isn't much of a set to speak off - just a couple of screens, a runway and a luggage trolley. It says volumes about J Lo's unexpected stage-craft that I barely noticed the empty stage because my eyes never left her. The introduction was typically glamorous. The stunning diva was carried on stage wearing a Dr Zhivago-tastic fur muff before stripping off to a rather unflattering white bodysuit.
It's hard to make that woman look anything less than flawless but she looked like a bedazzled Teletubby. While the outfit was a bit of a miss, the song selection was not. I've always loved the horn-heavy "Get Right" and Jenny did it justice despite a microphone malfunction. "Love Don't Cost A Thing" was a treat and I was happy to hear "I'm Into You" - one of the real highlights from 2011's uneven Love? She left for a costume change to the glorious strains of "Waiting For Tonight", which I always remember as the song that was playing in whatever dive I celebrated the turn of the millennium. Memories!
It was nice to see 2009's scrapped comeback single "Louboutins" get a little love in a video montage. I still think it's a fun song. When Jenny returned in full boxing regalia, the show stepped up a gear. She looked phenomenal with rippling abs and trademark tracksuit. I loved the choreography in the section and the Puerto Rican beauty proved that she is one of the best dancers in the business. I can't believe I actually enjoyed "Goin' In". Before the concert, I would have ranked it one of the year's biggest disappointments but it worked in that context.
Better yet was the medley of old-school urban jams like "Ain't It Funny" and "I'm Real". Whatever happened to Ja Rule? Has he been exiled to the same island of irrelevant rappers currently home to Styles P and Jadakiss? But I digress. The highlight was hearing "Jenny From The Block". I remember thinking it was so edgy at the time. Shame. One of the night's few missteps was the soppy "Baby, I Love You" video interlude - not the awesome R Kelly remix - with her hot toyboy. Stop bragging, bitch!
Next up was a stunning Las Vegas-themed nightclub segment with a bluesy rendition of non-hit "Hold It Don't Drop It". It sounded amazing. Jennifer really burnt a hole in the stage with her sexy moves. "I'm Glad" was a surprise inclusion but it's held up a lot better than I expected. Or maybe it just sounds richer with a live band. The ultimate triple threat then showed off her vocal chops by singing an excellent ballad version of "If You Had My Love" before bringing people back to their feet with "Until It Beats No More" - complete with montage of family photos. It was really cute.
The final segment was nuclear-powered entertainment. Sporting event favourite "Let's Get Loud" was an explosion of colour and ripped bodies, stunning number 96 US chart smash "Papi" was as fabulous as expected and "On The Floor" really is less annoying live. Not sure how I felt about her throne, which looked like a giant vagina from some angles. After the quickest of breaks, she returned for "Dance Again" AKA the vastly improved sequel to "On The Floor". Looking at the chaos around me, I realised that Jenny's gift is her mastery of upbeat party jams. She's never got it right over a whole album - they demand an element of variation - but few pop stars do three-and-a-half minutes of pure pop better. Put 20 of those songs together and you have one hell of a feel-good concert.