You know the Latinos are in the house if the generally über-punctual Hard Rock gets going well after the designated time. Clearly in anticipation of this cultural truism, this tour has had the aid of house DJ crew Jump Smokers warming up the crowd and serving as musical interlude between stage reconfigurations.
With a full band at the ready and a long runway at his disposal, Enrique Iglesias burst through the floor of the stage to get the show going with "I'm a Freak." From there, he took full control of the mostly female audience and held them in his hand through his rendition of "No Me Digas Que No," displaying the same level of skill and charisma that made his father a household name of international renown.
But while father and son might share from the same gene pool, familial nomenclature, and potential fan base, the two couldn't be more dissimilar in deliveries (and this writer has seen them both live). Enrique's rough-around-the-edges braggadocio allows him to get away with bawdry renditions of "Tonight (I'm Fuckin' You)" while seducing the audience into letting him borrow the car. It's weird, but he's chameleonic in his nice-guy douche-y-ness; and I mean that as a compliment. The man could sell snake oil for a living if it came down to it.
At this point, dear reader, it's imperative to know that during high school, some 20-odd years ago, I was the recipient of a wayward water balloon from the clumsy hands of the international sensation, a transgression that has largely quelled over time and an entertaining interview with his father back in 2012.
Never forgetting his Spanish roots (I don't know much of his catalog to comment on his Filipino side), at this point, the band and Enrique did for a nice quasi-tablao interlude that saw him reposition himself and some of the band toward the back of the Hard Rock, a move that would undoubtedly be part of his well-known up-close-and-personal connections with the crowd.
The curveball being that instead of pulling a young lady from the stands, Enrique invited an elderly gentleman onto the smaller stage with him. For this acoustic set, Enrique exchanged pleasantries and asked him questions. As it turns out, the lucky sexagenarian was named Mikhail, a Russian abuelo from New Jersey. A possible relative of his on-and-off longtime partner/wife Anna Kournikova? Coincidence or unholy alliance?
Proving that the Russians know their vodka and that Enrique should stick to peddling his Atlantico rum, Mikhail turned the one drink he was offered into a full pounding of the vodka bottle. Well played, sir.
I believe he followed that with a return to the main stage and a varied set list that was representative of a 20-year recording career. Other songs he performed were "Heart Attack," "Finally Found You," "Bailamos," and "Loco." And as if it needed querying, he sang through a version of "Hero" with the same spirit you'd imagine Pearl Jam would have if someone convinced them to perform "Jeremy" live. Enrique will be a crowd pleaser until the end, but just because he's pleasing the crowd that loves that song doesn't mean he has to "like it."
Get it? See what I did there? Ha!