Ricky Martin Toyota Center April 23, 2011
Ricky Martin is gay. Not Lil B "The Based God" gay, but actually gay. And even though this fact - which Martin revealed to a good deal of media fanfare last year - is significant insomuch as it helps define him as a person, his Toyota Center performance on Holy Saturday night highlighted something equally significant and equally definitive: Ricky Martin is an exceptional musical talent.
Dressed in black leather and a fauxhawk, the 39-year-old Puerto Rican superstar and former Menudo member began the night atop a steel cage with the song "Sera Sera (Too Late)." As a sign of confidence, both in his dancers and the audience, Martin let himself fall backwards down to the stage, kicking off a contemplative opening set that included the message "Don't Be Afraid of Yourself" projected on the arena's big screens.
Martin has truly perfected the art of the crossover, shifting seamlessly from English to Spanish, and showcasing his range with love ballads, rock, samba, salsa, and the countless other musical numbers he has cultivated since his 1991 self-titled Spanish solo debut.
Of course, his audience doubled with his 1999 English-language debut album that included the anthems "Livin La Vida Loca" and "Shake Your Bon-Bon." His second set included those hits, as well as "She Bangs," "Loaded" and "Basta Ya." The audience erupted with Martin's substitution of the line "Woke up in New York City" with "Woke up, right here in Houston!"
Each set transition and wardrobe change was preceded by pre-recorded testimonials that called for the end of discrimination. These were accompanied by an interpretive dance and guitar solo, and both were effective, touching, and thought-provoking. Martin declared that he is "not asking for more rights, or less rights, but rather I am asking for equality."
The real star of the evening was the hyper-sexual feel of the show, both in the crowd and onstage. Half-naked dancers, three dominatrixes (dominatrices?) with whips, a burlesque show, and hip-shaking that would melt a polar ice cap all contributed to a fun-filled, arousing show that was well worth skipping church for.
Personal Bias: We've been Livin' La Vida Loca lately.
The Crowd: Plenty of women in love with Ricky Martin. Even more men in love with Ricky Martin.
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Overheard in the Crowd: "It's like watching a stripper who never gets fully naked!"
Random Notebook Dump: Attending a concert without smelling weed smoke is a nice change of pace for us.