Marc Anthony Exudes Salsa-King Charisma


Never mind the sometimes lukewarm salsa dished up by Marc Anthony. What has elevated the Nuyorican singer to superstar status in the Latin music world is his considerable charisma, as was demonstrated eloquently before a capacity crowd Saturday at the Greek Theatre.

This was no ordinary gig for Anthony. It was his first since he played the lead role in the failed Broadway musical “The Capeman,” the much-hyped production that was shut down only two months after its opening.

It was also his first since the release of his 1997 album, “Contra la Corriente,” which confirmed his status as the world’s most popular salsa artist.


And judging by the frantic reaction of the mostly female crowd, Anthony is at the top of his game.

Wearing a black suit and backed by a highly competent 13-piece combo, the singer glowed with confidence and charm as he showed off his remarkable vocal powers.

But much of the material he chooses to sing lacks the spice to qualify as authentic salsa.

Part of the problem is that Anthony favors the so-called “salsa romantica,” a sub-genre born in the early ‘90s. This type of salsa is all about syrupy arrangements, synthesizer-heavy intros and whispered lyrics about love lost and regained, forsaking the gritty connection with big-band jazz and Afro Caribbean drumming that gives traditional salsa its heat.

It is to Anthony’s credit that he was able to overcome this material with his down-to-earth demeanor. You’ve got to love a guy who arrives on stage making the sign of the cross, stares at the thousands of people in front of him as if in disbelief and makes the occasional clownish gesture because, after all, he’s there to have fun just like everybody else.

And the show wasn’t entirely lacking in spice, especially during its second half, when Anthony introduced the moving “El Ultimo Beso” and offered a superb version of his flamenco-tinged hit “Hasta Ayer.” At the last moment, he also invited the multitalented Sheila E. on stage for a blistering conga solo during a jam version of “Nadie Como Ella.” Her magnetic presence simply lit up the stage and made for a wonderful finale.