Ricky Martin at Auckland's Vector Arena, April 17 2015 [Concert Review]
currently: listening to Hilary Duff 'Sparks'
But when you're a 23-year-old New Zealander who's only been exposed to the classic 'Livin La Vida Loca' as a child, that's what sticks in your memory the most. To me, Ricky Martin is 'Livin La Vida Loca' and 'She Bangs' and that other song that goes "Here we are! Ole Ole Ole". And that's what made me excited to go to his concert - it was a way to relive those classic tunes and moments.
As I waited inside Vector Arena for Ricky Martin to start, I was surprised that in the half-sized Vector, a majority of older people had tickets to the show. When I say older by the way, I don't mean the 30-year-old age bracket either. I mean people who looked much older, seemingly more suited to the Rod Stewart concert that happened the Monday before. Of course while age is merely a number, it's strange to think that in 15 years, this original demographic has grown up, and grown that old.
As the first song played (his Pitbull track 'Mr Put Me Down') Ricky Martin was lowered down from the ceiling, dressed in an all white outfit with a matching long white jacket. The outfit feels a little 90s reminiscent (it was going to be one of many outfits that did), but he proved it was the only thing 90s about him as he launched into a full dance routine.
You compare some 90s acts to how they are now (coughBritneySpearscough) and they're clearly way slower and not as agile as they used to be. But not Ricky. He had all the confident hip swinging and shaking as if he hadn't aged at all, wearing that same eye-catching smile. The only difference between then and now is that he's got some beard action and is looking more rugged and muscular than before.
For a man, Ricky Martin has a ridiculous number of costume changes. I'm used to seeing male singers in bands play in sweat soaked shirts for an entire 90 minute set, but it only took that first song before Ricky ripped his jacket off, followed by a complete outfit change the song after. Even Beyonce didn't have as many costume changes as Ricky Martin. In the space of 4 songs, the man went from white pants to black pants to a kilt (?!) then to leather pants. I could question the kilt but later on in the night, Ricky Martin wore a stranger semi see-through black mesh tank top. Either he has a thing for 90s tank tops and Scottish fashion or he just sweats a heck of a lot - the skirt would help with that sweating issue.
I would like to say how Ricky played a lot of his classics and that I happened to know the words to every song he sung, but he seemed to have instead taken the time to rework a lot of his classics into new formats. For example, the song 'She Bangs' felt like it became like a Chicago performance of 'He Had It Coming' as the dancer writhed about on the stage. I missed 'Shake Your Bon Bon' but according to some of the reviews, it was a "disappointing" club remix of the song.
The only song that stayed true to itself was the hit 'Livin La Vida Loca', which was a real dance track for everyone and I myself couldn't help but dance to. And while I was really excited that the song appeared so early on in the set, it did leave me wondering for the rest of the night "he's peaked with this best song. What's left for the rest of the show?"
Just before his last song before encore, Ricky got the audience to stand up, get involved and be told to not care about "looking ridiculous". He motioned with his hands to split the audience in half, and then said to the crowd he wanted to "make us exercise". Um, exercise? Is this a Zumba class?
If you walked into the concert during Ricky's performance of 'Por Arriba, Por Abajo', you honestly could believe it had became a massive Zumba session. As the band furiously played on (more than 10 minutes long for that poor drummer), the audience were taught four moves - swing your arms up, swing your arms down, rub your hands together to the left, then rub your tummy. What did this all mean? I still don't know but while it was all a little different and bizarre, it was still fun. When you looked out in the audience and saw everyone moving, I felt like I was in a Spanish night club than a concert. And that was awesome.
After that song, the buzz of the night did start to wear off as Ricky sang a slower song for his encore performance. And it did take some convincing to get the entire audience to get up to his final song of the night, 'Cup of Life' (ole ole ole!). But since everyone had finally gotten over feeling ridiculous after their impromptu Zumba Spanish nightclub dance, the participation levels were way more enthusiastic across Vector Arena. It was at that point that I forgot about reliving the 90s or having my expectations met, and instead got into dancing along with the music and words.
So while Ricky Martin's show wasn't exactly a has-been time capsule back into the 90s, nor was it the most spectacular, memorable performance in the world (I think it would have benefited to have the iconic songs more towards the end), there's still a lot to take away from his One World Tour. For one, we were just one massive group of people enjoying the fun of music - no matter what sort of flag you're holding (and there were a lot of flags). And two, it didn't matter if you understood Spanish or not because Ricky Martin did try to find a way to make it entertaining. Everyone walking out of Vector that night seemed to talk about how they did have some fun, and with an entertaining man like Ricky, it's the least you can walk away with.
(See more photos I took at Ricky Martin's concert here.)