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Rivera has fan-pleasing covered

Special to The Times

As a performer, Lupillo Rivera goes beyond the call of duty when it comes to entertaining his fans. An indication of his zealousness came halfway through the singer’s performance Friday at the Universal Amphitheatre, when a luxurious bed was brought onstage, complete with a young, negligee-clad woman.

Rivera looked at her with a mischievous glint in his eyes. He then jumped onto the bed, unbuttoned his shirt, and joining the muchacha under the covers, delivered a few bars of the Jose Alfredo Jimenez standard “Amaneci En Tus Brazos.” Woke up in her arms, indeed.

This over-the-top vignette was indicative of the irreverent spirit with which the Mexico-born, Long Beach-raised Rivera, 30, tackles traditional Mexican music. No wonder he has become one of its most glamorous idols. Sporting an expensive-looking gray suit and his shaved head, Rivera made the most of the cultural archetype he has so carefully constructed -- the misunderstood macho man with good intentions and a weakness for wine, women and the songs of Vicente Fernandez.

Rivera knows his ranchera aesthetics well, and he can belt out a mean “El Rey.” But he shone whenever he favored the banda format, accompanied by a 12-piece brass ensemble, two percussionists and an accordionist. At times, the clarinets would surprise with swinging solos that could have come out of a Benny Goodman record.

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Through it all, Rivera emphasized the importance of family ties. Besides inviting his sister, Jenni, to perform a few raucous banda numbers, he also brought his father onstage and to sing with him on a tune he dedicated to all Mexican immigrants who are exploited by their bosses.


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