Jennifer Lopez had a lot of expectation heaped on her ahead of her debut Dubai performance on Thursday night. The concert at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre was sold out months ahead of time — a rarity in this city.
So what were people looking for from the singer, on her first world tour but with a career going back to the ’90s, recently revived thanks to a stint on American Idol? If they wanted dance, shimmer, smiles and song, then they were well served.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many people packed into Media City as I did on Thursday night; what must have been tens of thousands following Lopez’s every booty shake — and there were a few. Lopez played the hits, thankfully delving into her back catalogue for the tracks we loved from the ’90s — a highlight being “I’m Real” with Ja Rule — and coming right up to date with the night’s finale, “Dance Again”. (A note to those people who leave a concert before the encore: You missed out on the song the concert was named for, an amazing dance show from Lopez and her current boyfriend Casper Smart and about a ton of glitter raining down. Is an early taxi worth that?)
The trawl through her hits showed the singer and dancer’s incredible versatility. When the dominating sound of the charts was hip-hop in the ’90s, that’s what she did. When it was pop, she was there again. And today’s electronic dance music? She’s on it. But somehow it all sounds genuine — she’s not pandering to what’s cool, she’s just real.
If you didn’t come to hear the songs, then you probably came to see her shake that booty, and there was no disappointment there. In fact, in the early part of the concert, she sacrificed her singing to dance, singing to a backing track and sounding occasionally breathless (we can forgive the mum of two, who is on the last leg of an epic global tour). Lopez’s roots as a dancer were still clear to see, thanks in part to her amazing costumes by Zuhair Murad. I think where ever you were at the concert, you couldn’t miss the megawatt sparkle of her crystal-encrusted, skin tight jumpsuit or glittering mini dress.
Granted, those costumes took a while to get on and off, so there were a few interludes where we were left waiting for Lopez to come back, breaking the flow of the concert, but that’s a small price to pay to see those costumes. She didn’t forget her Latin roots, breaking into a salsa moment, and getting the guys in the crowd to scream for her when she called them her “papis”. She looked like she was having fun, reaching down from the catwalk that reached into the crowd to touch her fans, and draping herself with a Lebanese flag thrown to her (I’m not sure she knew what it was, however). When she did take a seat to sing, giving her full voice to songs like “Until It Beats No More”, she proved she was the perfect American Idol judge — she’s got great pipes. What can’t this woman do?