Last Night: J. Lo and Marc Anthony at American Airlines Arena

Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez

American Airlines Arena

Nov. 2, 2007

Better Than: Sonny and Cher

The Mennifer, or shall we say, J.Ant show is so overwhelmingly over the top, you can't help but marvel at the star power in all of its pyrotechnics. Friday night at the American Airlines Arena, just about everything was bursting at the seams. There was a lot to take in during the double bill that featured the superstar singing couple.

Being the gentleman that he is, or perhaps he knew giving his wife headliner status would turn the evening into an "event," Marc Anthony took the stage first turning the arena into a salsa fest. With a video homage to the late Hector Lavoe and some clips from the biopic "El Cantate," which Anthony recently starred in opposite Lopez on the big screen, he opened his fiery set with "Aguanile," showing off his musical pipes right from the get go.

The guy can sing. Particularly in "Aguanile" and "Hasta Que Te Conoci," he held notes for so long, the crowd held their collective breath waiting for a Memorex moment of shattering glass, and then erupting in cheers at Anthony's virtuosity.

The Nuyorican singer has a no-frills approach to his performances, leaning heavy on his percussive band that was rich with congas, bongos, timbales, a full horn section, keyboards, bass, and guitar. His set was a Latin music fan's dream, with only two English language songs, including his 2000 hit "You Sang To Me," which he said he wrote for the most beautiful woman who is now "his wife." One of the highlights of Anthony's set was another number from Lavoe, "Mi Gente," with the AAA crowd on their feet, dancing and waving their hands in the air as they sang with Anthony over and over again, “Aye, la, la, la, la, la, la!"

Whether it was true emotion or part of Anthony's dramatic overtures, he stopped many times as the crowd cheered for him. At one point, he fell to his knees, looking up to the heavens as if undeserving of the accolades. It was, as they say, "a moment."

As quickly as Anthony had the audience in the palm of his hand, the star power and sheer celebrity of Miss Jennifer Lopez quickly turned the love fest from salsa king to pop diva. As she performed in her first-ever full tour (can you believe it?), Jenny from the Block was in da house. She opened with a blow the roof off "Do It Well," but the buzz was less about whether she was singing live or had some electronic help, but about her obviously protruding belly. Hidden behind flowing Roberto Cavalli clothes, Lopez was still able to shake it, but hardly like you'd expect. At one point, as she did a full spin, from the vantage point of a front-row seat, J Lo's black bodysuit underneath did, in fact, reveal a baby bump.

But the former Fly Girl can still move, keeping up with some intricately choreographed dancers and moving from one end of the stage to the other and out in front on a catwalk.

For sure, J Lo doesn't have the vocal dexterity of her husband, but she's definitely built for an arena stage and despite being a tour virgin knew how to handle the crowd. She talked minimally except to reveal a small wardrobe malfunction and intermittent power outage and to wax poetic about what a fabulous "year of firsts" it's been.

But then it was back to the lavish costumes, fireworks and hydraulic lifts. Unlike Anthony, her set was mostly in English except for a few songs from her release "Como Ama una Mujer," but just like audiences wanted Latin love songs from Anthony, they wanted Mrs. A. to stick with what she did best and with another costume a change she then reeled into "Waiting for Tonight" and "My Love Don't Cost A Thing."

Finally, it was Jennifer in a full-length blue gown with matching sequined shoes and Marc in a subtle tan suit for the encore. "Let's give them what they want," you could almost imagine Marc saying when he whispered in his wife's ear. And they burst into song gazing lovingly at each other for "Por Arriesgarnos" and "No Me Ames," eliciting awws and even some tears from the audience. The two seemed genuinely happy to be singing together, touring together and keeping their noticeable secret safe together. -- Michelle F. Solomon

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: The two performances were on such opposite ends of the musical spectrum, it was a bit jarring.

Random Detail: Marc Anthony's mother sat in the first row and the performer blew kisses to her throughout his set.

By the Way: Try to catch a glimpse of the tattoo on Anthony's wrist that bears his wife's name. Marc says: “It’s so I can see it, and when I’m on stage everyone can read it.”

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Tovin Lapan