Jennifer Lopez’s name was atop the bill Saturday at Verizon Center, but her derriere was the star of the show. Lopez spent much of her time on stage with her back to the audience. She’s not the first performer to do that. Van Morrison, for example, often turns away from the crowd, just to show he’s an ass; Lopez turns away just to show off, well, you get the rest.
Shortly after coming to the stage to “Never Gonna Give Up,” one of many super-produced, techno-driven dance numbers in the hour-long set, Lopez peeled off all sorts of furry accessories to reveal a sequined catsuit that left much of her backside uncovered. While flashbulbs popped, lasers shot behind her and fireworks blew up overhead, Lopez gyrated and jumped and in various and very athletic ways shook her moneymaker at the fans, who roared their approval.
Lopez, who turned 43 last week, has had an amazing show business career. She went from a background dancer on the television series “In Living Color” to feature film star (“Selena”) to, well, just plain celebrity. She’s great at that gig: Forbes ranked her as 2012’s top celebrity, just above Oprah. Lopez has used that power to do what she wants, dropping what looks like an easy job as judge on “American Idol” to get back to performing. And she clearly has prepared for the rigors of the road: Her abs were on display for much of the night also, and gravity has apparently yet to find them.
She only briefly got in touch with her Latin side, sporting a mariachi-esque costume for a few bars of “Let’s Get Loud” before ripping it off to reveal another sequined catsuit. She relied on a video of Flo Rida to accompany her on “Goin’ In,” and a cinematic version of Pitbull showed up onscreen to shout along with Lopez on “On the Floor.” While the production and the arrangements and the delivery are all grandiose, it wouldn’t take Simon Cowell to point out that the melodies were just mediocre and that her singing was essentially irrelevant. On many tunes, it appeared as if Lopez wasn’t singing at all, despite the vocals coming through the house PA.
Lopez, as divas are wont to do, took a lot of breaks, to change costume and gas up for the next dance number. The audience sat through bad videos on the arena’s big screens during those pauses, including one that was just a series of Hallmarky slogans, including “Love for Me Is a Journey, Not a Destination” and “You Must Love Yourself to Truly Love Another.” Another simply had her canoodling with her latest companion, Casper Smart, who also is her choreographer. He’s 25; Lopez graduated high school 25 years ago. Lucky him.
On Thursday, Sarah Kaufman’s “Dance of Life” series looks at the behind-the-scenes choreography of riggers and stagehands as they set up 18 trucks’ worth of gear needed to put on the J-Lo concert.
McKenna is a freelance writer.