September 30, 2015
You know the phrase "Dance like nobody is watching"? It essentially means to let loose and do something with all of your heart and energy. Or as the great American poet Ice Cube would say, "You can do it, put your ass into it!" There was certainly was plenty of heart, energy, and ass-shaking when Ricky Martin took the stage at Toyota Center last night. The 43-year-old Puerto Rican pop superstar looked every bit of 23 as he served as a love guru, Zumba instructor, and therapist to the adoring fans who packed the complete lower bowl of the basketball arena.
The new track "Mr. Put It Down" began the party with a funky dance beat and additional lyrics provided by rapper Pitbull. "Who has a lifetime, baby? We have the night right now!" sang Martin as he shimmied across the stage.
"Let's just say that I'm feeling a bit insecure tonight" he confessed to the audience. "So I'm gonna need to hear you loud every time I ask how you're feeling tonight! I just wanna make you feel special! A little fun, little love, little dancing!"
And that seems to be his primary message nowadays: Be happy, be you, and be free. It takes a strong individual to ask all of that from somebody, and Ricky Martin certainly fits the bill. "For the next hour and a half or whatever, I want everyone here to forget your problems and be free with me!". And everyone did just that.
The heartbeats kept increasing with "Adrenalina," the catchy and energetic song made in collaboration with Wisin and Jennifer Lopez.
The stage behind him and the band was a spectacle in it's own right. The back wall was scattered with bright, colorful lights, with an array of spotlights flanking the sides, which would seemingly move in sync with Martin's own arm gestures. The central video screens were enveloped by an apparatus that elevated Martin from below or suspended him from the rafters. It even brought out a full size classic Ford Mustang for the intro to "Livin' La Vida Loca". Add in the troupe of sexy male and female dancers that accompanied Martin onstage, and this show felt like a glorious Las Vegas revue.
A rock version of "She Bangs" was next on the bill, shifting gears into the slower, more contemplative portion of the night. Martin reappeared draped in a long, flowing white top and barefoot, serenading the crowd with "Asignatura Pendiente (Tengo Ganas)." He had already offered up "Tal Vez," which made the Toyota Center sound like an enormous karaoke center as most of the ladies sang along word for word. As much as I enjoy the hip-shaking, high-flying Ricky Martin, it's this slowed-down and subdued version that really makes me appreciate him as a musical treasure. He continued to sing "Tu Recuerdo" and later "Vuelve," or "the novela song" as my sister calls it. "He's making me fall in love all over again" she said. Judging from the reactions of the thousands of other fans in the audience, I'd say they also felt the same way.
The ending of the show was something straight from the opening ceremony of the World Cup. With "María," "Pégate" "La Mordidita" and "La Bomba" played in medley fashion, with sexual dance moves filling the stage with lust the way only possible through the horns and percussion of musica latina. The crowd was on its feet for "Por Arriba, Por Abajo," with Ricky leading the arm-raising and seat-shuffling. "La Copa de La Vida" served as the finale, and by that point, most of us were sweaty and pumped up from all the dancing.
"I dont' care, I don't care!" yelled Martin as he waved his hands and snapped his fingers. It was a combination of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance mixed with salsa, ballet, and samba dance moves.
The dance, and Ricky Martin himself, can only truly be described with one word:
Personal Bias: Martin MTV Unplugged disc is one of my favorite albums of all time.
The Crowd: Smaller than expected, but lively as hell!
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Overheard In the Crowd: "Damn! Look at that man candy!" — my sister, admiring Ricky and his dancers.
Random Notebook Dump: My father loves popcorn. Adores it. When my siblings and I go to the movies, we all eat from a large, and then get the refill on the way out for my dad, who will proceed to eat it all in one sitting. He has to be some sort of expert popcorn eater. Me, on the other hand, although I like popcorn, am horrible at eating it. As I watched the show last night, every 5th or 6th piece of popcorn ended up on my shirt, on my lap, or on the floor. I guess popcorn eating is not genetic. (How's THAT for random!)