Sat Aug 20, 2005 6:34 pm
Fernandez proves strongest of trio
The overpowering screams of women in the throes of ecstasy dominated the opening night of the highly awaited tour headlined by Latin-music superstars Alejandro Fernandez, Chayanne and Marc Anthony.
The show is making waves because it joins three dominant performers from three musical genres. Fernandez is a mariachi heartthrob, Chayanne is a long-lasting pop idol, and Anthony is a romantic salsero.
The mix may be odd, but it worked Wednesday at the Toyota Center in Phoenix, where the sold-out crowd eating it up.
Of course, with it being opening night, the crowd was particularly charged. Spotted in the audience was La Mafia lead singer Oscar De La Rosa, who attracted little attention though he wore a beaming smile that seemed to be looking for a photographer. Telenovela actor and singer Jaime Camil walked through the crowd to his seat, causing cell phone cameras to start flashing like mad.
Causing the biggest commotion was the lovely Jennifer Lopez -- aka Mrs. Marc Anthony -- who stood off to the side of the stage during her husband's opening set, chewing gum with her mouth constantly in motion.
Anthony was a smart choice to start, as his set was easily the weakest of the three. Dressed in loose black suit, he looked dangerously thin. Actress Lindsay Lohan has nothing on him.
With more than 15 band members on stage, the arrangements were punchy and dramatic. But he also has a tendency to engage in too many vocal acrobats, which detracts from the songs.
A huge case in point was a reading of the Latin-music standard "Hasta Que Te Conoci." He held a note for several seconds during the song, earning the crowd's applause.
But by the time he did the same thing three times in the song, the sentiment of the Juan Gabriel ballad was lost, and it became an annoying exercise in vocal stamina.
Oddly enough, the 50-minute set didn't include his biggest hit, "I Need to Know," perhaps another reason why he got the most muted response of the night.
Puerto Rican singer Chayanne, in the middle position, clicked immediately with the crowd, thanks to his megawatt smile and old-fashioned charisma. He's a classic Latin pop idol, with dazzling dance moves, a humble personality and a perfectly pleasant, serviceable voice.
At 37, he still has the taut, controlled movements of a natural dancer. With six dancers supporting him and a huge screen playing clips of his videos, his choreographed set felt more like full-bodied show than Anthony's.
The rhythms were irresistible on such pop truffles as "Provocame" and "Salome." In a more pensive mode, he offered a soaring cover of Franco De Vita's bittersweet "Contra Vientos y Mareas."
Chayanne ties everything together with an engaging personality. He seems to have fun on stage, and he was pelted with underwear from the crowd.
He shoved one pair of yellow panties into his black leather pants. The ladies in the house loved it.
Fernandez brought the evening triumphantly home in a set that was split between mariachi tunes and pop material. To make sure the schism was noted, the Mexican idol wore a sleek charro outfit with his hair slicked back in a pigtail for the first 25 minutes. For the second half, he sported skintight black leather trousers with his hair hanging loose, like actor Mickey Rourke in "Wild Orchid."
Blessed with a booming voice and commanding stage presence, Fernandez worked the stage like a master.
A simple hand gesture or toss of his floppy hair excited the crowd. At one point, he crossed himself, kissed his fingers and tossed it upward to heaven. You know someone was up there, smiling.
Vocally, he shone on a dazzling reading of the standard "Granada" and the poignant ache of "Si Tu Supieras." Comfortable in both modern and traditional settings, his recent smash "Me Dedique a Perderte" boasted a smooth R&B vibe not present on the recording.
After Fernandez left the stage, the three united for one song before the house lights went up. Unfortunately, the tune failed to let any of the three shine and didn't seem to resonate with any of them. Too bad, because a strong group number would have been a perfect capper to the evening.
Reach the reporter at randy.cordova@ arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8849.
# Marc Anthony, Alejandro Fernandez, Chayanne: The Latin stars will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at UTEP's Don Haskins Center. The concert is sold out.
# Information: 544-8444.