Marc Anthony's Birthday Concert in Miami Tinged With Sadness, But Still a Big Hit

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Marc Anthony 

American Airlines Arena

September 16, 2011

Better Than: Cafe con leche.

We're taking back anything bad we've ever said about Marc Anthony.

No disrespect, Marc, but the one text we sent out during the show last night from the American Airlines Arena said, "This bitch can sing!" Honestly, he is one of the most talented and impressive vocalists we've ever seen in concert.

Marc Anthony has such command, not only over his own powerful vocals, but also over the audience, which celebrates his every blink or bead of sweat. He is incredibly skilled. And the music -- after he got "I Need to Know" out of the way -- was a spectacular salsa showcase.

The opening act was a bilingual comedian, a bunch of Goya commercials, and the guy behind us singing along with the blasting music. He was pretty good. But it was Marc Anthony's b-day and the audience summoned him by singing "Happy Birthday." Eventually, he showed up with his 16-piece band, an hour and a half late.

Finally ready to salsa, Marc's sadness (probably due to his recent divorce from J.Lo) was apparent. It's not that he didn't put his all into the performance. He's a lively little guy. But the ballads just seemed sadder than sad. We made friends with the lady and her daughter sitting next to us who gave us some Marc Anthony history lessons. They'd seen him five times before and said that it's true, he seemed more down in the dumps. Who can blame him? Love stinks.

Anthony sang a mix of original songs and classics including the sombre José Luis Perales' "Y Como Es El," which he said is one of his favorite songs. He ended every audience interaction with the same phrase, "Check it out."

Most songs started slowly, dramatically, thoughtfully. But these sad ballads built up to fun and lively dance rhythms with friendly horns. Salsa -- it's like life. You can sit around and be sad. But you still gotta get up and move your ass. Other tunes carried by a similar sort of active sadness were "Y Hubo Alguien" and "Amar Sin Mentiras," which our neighbor announced excitedly was her song.

Anthony has all the things a Latin singer needs: an expressive face, a very emotional voice, and extremely dramatic lyrics. His fans were madly in love with him, freaking out whenever he glanced in their direction.

At one point, the singer hurt his foot and he started limping around the stage. But this dude's a trooper. He just whispered to the bodyguards and kept dancing.

His daughter Ariana brought out a six-foot-tall birthday cake. Everyone sang while the band played and Anthony hugged and kissed his little girl. Marc thanked the audience for its loving support, "especially this year," adding, "Who in the world can say they're spending their birthday like this? I'm a lucky man."

During the encore, he received several birthday gifts from his fans, including a teddy bear, a big glitzy rosary, and a Puerto Rican flag, which he affixed to the mic, Axl Rose-style.

The show ended with "Tu Amor Me Hace Bien," which he normally dedicates to Jennifer Lopez. Last night, though, his daughter Ariana was the one on his mind, and he offered it to her.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Tight dresses, high heels, mothers with daughters, older couples, teams of girls, old guys, and one little kid.

Personal Bias: I get it now, Jennifer!

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