Pop Music Review : Luis Miguel Displays His Musical Range at Universal

Talk about a Luis of all trades. Pop, Spanish ballads, rap, mariachi, funk, R&B;, boleros--Luis Miguel did it all Thursday, the first of four nights at the Universal Amphitheatre.

In the wake of his phenomenally successful new album of boleros, "Segundo Romance" (an unprecedented 730,000 copies sold in the U.S. since its Aug. 30 debut), the Mexican pop star switched deftly and convincingly between styles in concert.

Accompanied by a dynamic 13-piece band, Luis Miguel (he always uses his two first names) demonstrated why he's clearly a step ahead of others in the same arena.

The former teen idol sauntered on stage clad in a gray suit and tie, reminiscent of a 1950s balladeer. But instead of launching the program with any of his trademark bolero s (most of them decades-old love songs befitting his garb), Luis Miguel started by alternating between straight-ahead contemporary ballads and his now signature funk and R&B-laced; pop tunes. And while the 24-year-old cuts a dashing figure, his strength lies in his voice.

Luis Miguel utilized expected embellishments, including a 24-piece string orchestra that rose from the back of the stage to accompany a rendition of famed Mexican composer Armando Manzanero's "No se tu." But there were still surprises left: In the second half, the singer--now dressed in black--sang the classic "El Dia que me Quieras," accompanied by a bandoneon player--new territory for the star.

And the house truly came down when he sang a set of beloved rancheras with L.A.'s Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, and finally capped the evening with a bilingual version of "Blame It on the Boogie."

Best of all, the over-50 crowd was having as much fun as the mostly young adult fans. For Mexico's other romantic idol, Juan Gabriel, coming to the Universal in October, this is going to be one tough act to follow.

* Luis Miguel performs tonight and Sunday at the Universal Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, 8:15 p.m. $52.50-$40. (818) 980-9421.

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