Jennifer Lopez performs at the Dubai World Cup 2014. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News

It’s a testament to how good an entertainer Jennifer Lopez is that you can be far, far away from the stage and still be completely swept away by her show.

The American Idol judge closed out the Dubai World Cup on March 29 to a full house of cheering fans. Thousands assembled in the balconies and on the ground to watch, but most of us at the back — especially those of us who are under 160cm tall — couldn’t see anything of the low stage, even on tip-toes.

But nonetheless, Lopez and her live band — two drummers, two guitarists and a keyboardist — made a big impression. Just after 11pm, she burst onto the stage — clad in denim hotpants, silver frills and a chopped-up top to match — singing a snippet of Same Girl as photos from her early years played on screen behind her. But she didn’t tease, giving the crowd exactly what they wanted off the bat — her magnum opus, Jenny from the Block.

“Y’all think it’s over? It ain’t over. In the Bronx, we like it funky,” she said before she and her six back-up dancers showed us exactly how funky they like it. The spirited dance breaks were frequent throughout the show, an ode to Lopez’s career beginnings as a dancer and part of why her performance was so engaging.

The hits kept coming. A slowed down, sultrified and electro version of I’m Real surprised, followed by a true-to-studio Ain’t It Funny, complete with Ja Rule’s rap courtesy of the music video playing behind.

Powerful voice

“Should we do some new stuff?” Lopez asked before launching into her latest sexy single I Luh Ya Papi with her two female back-up singers flanking her. Her voice proved powerful live, though when she cut away from her mic, it was clear that her back-up vocalists carried much of the performance.

It wouldn’t be a pop show without a medley. I’m Glad, I’m Into You and One Love were combined, providing enough time for the first outfit change. The dancers came back in white suits and canes while Lopez wore a bedazzled white jumpsuit and belted out Get Right.

She shocked with a bit of a striptease during the sensual tune Girls — which had a line of If You Had My Love woven in — that left little to the imagination. But she delighted by taking selfies with mobile phones from the crowd and even trying on one fan’s hat. A highlight was when Lopez sang a never-before-heard song off her upcoming album, the power ballad Never Satisfied. And though the rest of her show was filled with as many hits as costume changes, from Love Don’t Cost a Thing to Waiting For Tonight, the nearly 90-minute set overstayed its welcome after one hour, which is when things got a lot more dub-steppy and the crowd thinned by more than half.

Lopez finished off with the encore Let’s Get Loud and a blast of confetti. The crowd was already sparse, but many broke out into impromptu salsa dances in their spots, proving once again that when Lopez is on stage, you can’t help but move.