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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisWith a six year hiatus from the studio, time to get comfortable with his belatedly disclosed sexual orientation and an autobiography under his belt, Ricky Martin appeared refreshed on his latest world tour. Though there was still plenty of bon bon shaking that made the girls (and some of the guys) giggle with delight, the heartthrob singer recently reconnected with his Latin music roots, dropping the steamy new album Musica + Alma + Sexo (Columbia), which features mostly Spanish-language songs alongside a few English tracks.
The first half of the night balanced between both factions of his fan base, switching between the rhythmically robust "I'm Alright," the tender hearted "Vuelve" and the pulsating "She Bangs." A Roaring Twenties-inspired rendition of "Loaded" served as Martin's best example of blurring boundary lines as a climatic dance throw down, while "Maria" exploded with a Latin pop meets world music groove.
Although the show was nothing short of explosive, it was surprising to see Martin's sense of style still stuck in the 1990s. The one time trend setter when it came to fashion is still dawning leather pants and sporting grown out hair on top with shaved sides best left in the previous decade. Some songs also suffered from dated production, mainly the overplayed "Livin' la Vida Loca" and the already annoying "Shake You Bon Bon," though they both still incited the same old shrieks of delight.
Instead, Martin's true gems were his ethnically-inspired romps during the second half, which possessed the most passion and robust instrumentation of the evening. "Frio" was a flamenco-tipped treat, "Mas" proved his club appeal remains, while the World Cup anthem "La Copa de la Vida/The Cup of Life" truly brought down the house. Even if he isn't crossing over to the pop charts as frequently these days (resulting in a completely empty balcony level), Martin's entertainment prowess seems to be earning an unexpected resurgence, perhaps sparked by the space and time between his professional endeavors crossed with increased acceptance of himself.
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