Jennifer Lopez’s “Dance Again” concerts promise sparkle. They deliver stodge.
J-Lo, as she is best known, is on her first world tour at 43. She’s been playing in the U.K. where her curves have been the star of every show she’s done.
There’s also an army of dancers that includes her current boyfriend, 25-year-old Casper Smart. Of the clunky pop music, the least said, the better. Her vocals, a little on the shrill side, are satisfactory, not show-stopping.
Consider yourselves warned if you live in continental Europe, where J-Lo heads next. After that, she’s off to Asia and Australia.
Lopez possesses what’s said to be the most revered bottom in the world, with many urban myths about how much it’s insured for. Her prime asset is unashamedly exploited onstage.
A large portion of her hit “I’m Into You” is sung with her back to the audience, the renowned backside smack in the spotlight. Background video graphics regularly linger in the same area.
That alone isn’t enough to explain J-Lo’s success. She’s a Hollywood actress, a judge on “American Idol,” has her own range of perfumes and sold more than 70 million records. She maintains an astute portfolio of liaisons with international brands, in fashion and beyond. On her website, brand-heavy pages devoted to “Style + Beauty” and “Body + Mind” have equal footing to those devoted to her music.
Her dancers’ lithe Latin routines require them to unashamedly worship her body, clad in a succession of tight glittering outfits.
The glamorous photos in the tour program, the diamond painted on the stage curtain and the video sequence of luxury goods that accompanies “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” suggest dazzling entertainment. Instead, we get cheap and hackneyed staging: not much more than a flight of steps that sometimes light up, like a 1970s light-entertainment television show set.
The choreography, bar a brief salsa blast for “Let’s Get Loud,” lacks set-piece spectaculars. We get Broadway-on-a- budget chorus lines and dubious hip hop gymnastics.
All would be forgotten if the music was up to scratch. The paltry 90 minutes of the show (encores included) suggests that Lopez could use a few songs with real depth. Her onstage chatter is inane.
When Lopez first came to pop prominence, hip-hop and R&B dominated the U.S.; a slick groove and a hollered hook were key components of chart success. She jumped on the bandwagon. With 10 years’ perspective, 2002’s “Jenny From the Block” sounds generic and uninspired. The 1999 debut single “If You Had My Love,” played as an acoustic ballad, is sloppy rather than smoochy, as if one’s innamorata had passed out from boredom and was dribbling on one’s shoulder.
Other songs explore the euro-dance sound. “Waiting for Tonight” bumps along like a 2 Unlimited classic demented with a determination to take itself seriously.
“On the Floor” is a hellish mash of blunt dance beats, with “Llorando Se Fue” (infamously known as the “Lambada”) fused with second-hand lyrical cliches about generic “party people” who -- no great surprise there -- are “in da club.”
Lopez is clearly a celebrity with considerable business acumen. This is a truly poor show.
The Jennifer Lopez tour has moved to continental Europe after gigs in the U.K. She plays Stockholm tonight, followed by concerts in Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia. Shows later this year are in Dubai, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Puerto Rico. Information: http://jenniferlopez.com/blog/post/on-tour
What the Stars Mean: ***** Fantastic **** Excellent *** Very Good ** Good * Poor (No stars) Avoid
(Robert Heller is a music critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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