The women in the capacity crowd Friday night at the Pond of Anaheim were squealing even before Spanish pop darling Enrique Iglesias stepped on stage.
As waves of flashing lights signaled the start of the nearly two-hour concert, fans, young and old, hooped and hollered so loudly that you'd couldn't imagine the volume increasing even when the 22-year-old singer actually appeared.
But it did.
Wearing a bright green shirt and black jeans, Iglesias stood on stage at the start of the show, his head bowed dramatically--a perfect heartthrob pose.
Just when you were worried that he was a bit too caught up in all of his sudden stardom, he looked up at the audience--and good-naturedly giggled.
He was showing that he can have fun with his sex symbol image. This welcome gesture set a refreshing tone for the evening.
In just two years and two albums, Iglesias has become one of the biggest selling Spanish-language artists in the world.
With a 1996 Grammy for best Latin pop performance and 10 million albums sales worldwide behind him, he has managed, quite remarkably, to crawl out from under the shadow of his celebrated father, Julio, and establish his own identity.
Though his singing wavered from confident to uncertain during the show, he kept the audience's attention with his disarming personality--inviting them to sing along on certain songs.
Strutting up and down a platform that stretched from the stage, he even grabbed a small boy from the audience and held him in under one arm while singing "Vivire y Morire" (I Will Live and I Will Die).
At another point, Iglesias sang one of his most popular ballads, "Experiencia Religiosa" (Religious Experience), while suspended from a crane above the crowd. This Spaniard and his guitarists also made a gracious salute to Southern California's Mexican ties by playing a popular Mexican jarabe song and mariachi legend Jose Alfredo Jimenez's "Cielito Lindo."
Apart from the effective manner and theatrics, Iglesias shows encouraging signs of being a quality singer, which would be a rarity among the current crop of romantic Latin pop stars. He's got a powerful voice, yet knows how to inject nuance into a vocal, especially on love songs such as "Enamorado por Primera Vez" (In Love for the First Time).
He needs, however, to develop a more personal stamp when tackling upbeat numbers, such as "Lluvia Cae" (Rain Falls), which sound a bit faceless. While his six-piece band played with authority, someone ought to rethink the occasional guitar solos.
The question is whether Iglesias will settle into comfortable stardom or challenge himself to develop a genuine artistry.