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Jennifer Lopez , Marc Anothony Concert Review Los Angeles

Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony: Rockin LA HOT!!!

The superstar couple of bilingual pop show off his old-school musicality and her high-wattage celebrity power. Will baby make three? They didn't quite say.

By Elijah Wald, Special to The Times

JENNIFER LOPEZ and Marc Anthony are the superstar couple of bilingual pop, and fans who packed Staples Center on Friday night got to see each in fine form as well as to witness a carefully staged moment of shared intimacy.

It was also a chance to see the difference between an old-school concert and a modern pop show.

Marc Anthony went first, bringing the crowd to its feet with his soaring, flamenco-flavored introduction to "Aguanilé" even before he ascended from beneath the floor, surrounded by smoke, at center stage.

Fifteen years ago, Marc Anthony was the sexily nerdy poet of salsa. Eight years ago, he was trying somewhat uncomfortably to create a parallel career as an English-language star. Now he is a supremely assured master at the top of his game.

His set was mostly a recap of his Spanish-language hits, and his voice was stronger than ever. As a salsero, he has superb control matched with an engaging playfulness, toying with the rhythms before driving them home. Unlike most current stars in the genre, he is equally compelling on the slow introductory sections.

The flamenco influence shone through in his adept use of minor chords and Arabic melisma on "Hasta Ayer," while "Hasta Que Te Conocí" had a whispery soul that made the arena seem for a moment like a small club.

Marc Anthony is also a supremely engaging presence, skipping back and forth across the stage, conducting percussion solos, twirling, jumping, then pausing to wipe sweat from his face with a look that suggests he finds the whole thing both a thrill and a bit of a joke. His between-songs comments have an easy, unscripted feel, and when he said his set changed every night, it was easy to believe him.

That remark prefaced the evening's big surprise: Where he usually does his English-language hit "You Sang to Me," he explained that instead he wanted to perform "a real personal song. . . . I want to sing it for her," and launched into Journey's "Faithfully."

On a tour dogged by the question of whether Lopez is pregnant -- the tabloids say yes, but the couple have said no -- everyone caught the significance of the lyric: "They say that the road ain't no place to start a family. . . ."

There was plenty more -- a jaunty Cuban montuno on "Mi Gente," the bouncy pop-rock of "I Need to Know" -- and a lot of it was more interesting from a musical perspective. But for pure drama, that line in "Faithfully" was the moment that got the crowd up and yelling.

Lopez teased to the subject in her set as well, coyly plugging the theme "This is a year of firsts for me," then pulling back to list her first concert tour and her first Spanish-language album (further tease: "a beautiful, passionate experience that involved my husband") and a reprise of her first hit, "If You Had My Love."

It is startling to consider that this is indeed her first tour, despite seven hit albums reaching back to 1999's "On the 6" (which, not incidentally, featured a duet with Marc Anthony, "No Me Ames"). Where Marc Anthony is a live performer who worked his way up through the New York club scene, Lopez is a TV and movie star who also makes records. Her show seemed less a traditional concert than a montage of music videos brought to life.

That is not a criticism, necessarily. Her show was seamlessly paced and thoroughly entertaining, and she sang just fine. It is just that it deserved a credit roll at the end: She was the star, front and center, and you couldn't take your eyes off her, but she was supported not only by a band and seven dancers but a presumably sizable stage crew.

Lopez's music touches many bases, from rap to power pop. She even went back to the 1960s, reprising King Curtis' "Memphis Soul Stew" as an intro to her hit "Hold It Don't Drop It," while striding the stage in a Tina Turner-style silver-fringe mini-dress.

There were four songs from her Marc Anthony-produced Spanish-language disc, "Como Ama una Mujer," including the hit "Qué Hiciste."

She finished with a romping "Let's Get Loud," and then, the moment the crowd had been waiting for: Lopez reappeared stage right, Marc Anthony stage left. They slowly approached, singing "Por Arriesgarnos," and came together for an embrace on the final verse. It was sweet, if a little stiff, and was also the moment when Lopez proved her power. Musically, Marc Anthony is in a different league, but standing beside her, he looked merely human and she glowed like a star.