Marc Anthony performs at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA, on Aug 23, 2012. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)
The Gigant3s Tour doesn’t boast the crossover star power of this summer’s other major Latin-pop trek, which earlier in the month brought Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias to the Southland for three concerts full of English-language radio hits.
But Gigant3s—with Chayanne, Marco Antonio Solís and Lopez’s estranged husband Marc Anthony—lives up to its billing. For three hours Friday night at Anaheim’s Honda Center, these middle-aged testosterone factories processed big emotions (separately and together) in a flashy, elaborate show that made virtues of size and volume.
Anyone wondering about the health of the Latin-pop touring business need only have counted the members of each man’s band: nine for Chayanne, 15 for Anthony and a stage-crowding 22 for Solís, whose accompanists included string and horn players wearing crisp white dinner jackets.
There was stylistic breadth too, with Anthony’s muscular salsa set sandwiched between Chayanne’s aerobic pop tunes and Solís’ soft-rock power ballads. To get a sense in English-language terms of the diversity encompassed by Gigant3s (which launched Aug. 3 in Miami and concludes Sept. 14 in Las Vegas), you might imagine a package tour featuring Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Bublé and Paul Simon.
Chayanne, whose long career began with a Menudo-style Puerto Rican boy band, opened Friday’s show, exhorting the audience to “baila, baila” while striking heroic poses arranged to highlight his statuesque features. The songs felt for the most part like less flavorful versions of hits by Ricky Martin, but Chayanne’s nimble dancing served as an appealing counterpoint to his comic-book machismo.
Dressed in his customary black suit and sunglasses, Anthony, performing second, projected a different, more pungent kind of masculinity as his deep-swinging band chewed through meaty salsa grooves geared to an arena’s dimensions. His singing was thrillingly florid, particularly in “Mi Gente,” by Héctor Lavoe (the salsa star Anthony portrayed in the 2007 biopic “El Cantate”), and “Nadie Como Ella,” which he sang with Chayanne.
Yet Anthony was no less fascinating to watch than to listen to: On several occasions Friday he allowed his backing musicians to vamp for minutes at a time while he moved across the stage, gazing at the crowd wordlessly; he was soaking up its adulation but measuring it, too, in a way that revealed something about his role in the celebrity-industrial complex in the United States.
Solís, who closed the concert, did a little self-mythologizing of his own in a sleek video introduction that felt something like a campaign commercial. (Think images of the Mexican singer-songwriter shaking fans’ hands intercut with shots of sports cars and high-end home goods.) Where Anthony oozed tabloid-target intensity, Solís embodied a relaxed noblesse oblige as he ran through unabashedly romantic songs from his solo career and from his band Los Bukis.
The music was working toward the feeling of being humanized by love. But the singer was coasting above that drama, a giant in his own mind.