A predominately Latino crowd packed the Universal Amphitheatre on Saturday night for Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, a New York-based pop/funk trio. Fronted by Lisa Velez, a diminutive singer with a voice that recalls early Diana Ross (think “Where Did Our Love Go,” not “Eaten Alive”), the group has showmanship to spare, and has greatly improved since it appeared here last summer at the Palace.
The group’s repertoire is padded with dance tunes, but Velez--who looked like an ‘80s Puerto Rican Mae West--proved her mettle as an actress as well as vocalist on the tear-drenched ballad “All Cried Out,” which she introduced with a machisma -packed monologue about the angst of loving well but not wisely. Joining her on the song with their own lusty, muscle-bound vocal input were Bow-Legged Lou and Paul Anthony of Full Force, the group that writes, produces and plays on Cult Jam’s hits.
The bill (whose three-night engagement concludes tonight) was opened by female group Expose, whose Spandex outfits and hip-pumping choreography shouldn’t shame Janet Jackson into hanging up her dancing shoes. The trio managed to keep most of the males in the Amphitheatre smiling. And hooting and whistling.