“Don’t cry,” said JLo as she extended a regal hand into the throng of fans by the foot of the thrust stage: “Don’t cry.” The waterworks must have been contagious, for she said exactly the same a moment later when she went to the other side of the stage. The sight of the singer in the flesh on her first world tour had evidently overwhelmed her admirers. Or were the tearful faces a figment of the JLovian imagination? A swathe of unsold seats in the gods at the back of the arena suggested they might have been. Jennifer Lopez no longer inspires the adulation she used to.
Her “Dance Again” world tour should have been staged at least 10 years ago. Except back then she was busy with Hollywood as well as music; then came motherhood in 2008. As a result Lopez has hit the road on the wrong side of her commercial peak. So while the JLo brand continues to generate tabloid headlines – currently focusing on her Madonna-esque romance with a “toyboy” backing dancer – her pop career is waning. Her response at the O2 Arena was straight from the diva’s handbook: pretend everything’s fine.
The show was slickly choreographed and vibrant. There were numerous outfits, starting with the white fake-fur Cossack hat and dress with which she made her entrance, looking like a glamorous polar bear, followed by changes into bejewelled bodysuits, tiny dresses and wafty chiffon robes for the ballads. Strategically placed wind machines stirred her magnificent chestnut tresses of hair as though Zephyrus himself were a member of her entourage.
Her singing was thin but proficient – when you could tell it was really her. During the uptempo songs that dominated the set, the singer’s energetic dance routines miraculously had no effect on her voice; it didn’t take a Sherlock to suspect the use of pre-recorded vocals, although the effect was cleverly mitigated by live singing from two backing singers and live music from a proper band.
With the exception of her 2011 hit single “On the Floor”, JLo hasn’t adapted to the modern era of hands-in-air dance-pop à la Rihanna. Instead the best section of the show revisited her Puerto Rican Bronx street-girl heyday with hip-hop-flavoured hits such as “Jenny from the Block”, the singer providing a cute sing-song summary of the American Dream from within a glittery hoodie: “I used to have a little, now I have a lot.” Don’t cry for JLo just yet.