Pop Music Reviews : Spain's Raphael Let the Music Speak for Itself at Universal

Only truly great singers don't even need to chat a little with their audience in order to communicate. And Spain's Raphael, by letting nothing interfere with his singing in a two-hour, 30-song show at the Universal Amphitheatre on Sunday--proved himself to be among the truly great.

Though the 51-year-old singer began his professional career when he was 14 and has been a star performer since the mid-'60s--he's still known as " El Nino " ("The Child")--Sunday he showed that he has plenty of vocal arsenal left. In fact, few Latin pop singers today can vocally compete with this man, who still looks young and has the powerful tenor voice that can suddenly shift from a sweet croon to a more passionate Andalusian style.

And then there are his trademark antics--exaggerating the emotional impact that the songs have on him, stomping off the stage "moved" by a number while the orchestra keeps going, and standing right in front of the audience for about 20 seconds after each song, begging for applause and pretending to be crying.

He didn't have to beg. The audience stood after each song, even the disposable new material from his latest album (his 74th!), despite the lifelessness of Raphael's nine-piece orchestra. Nobody cared--Raphael was there, and that's all that mattered.

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