If you witnessed Jennifer Lopez’s MTV Video Music Awards performance a few weeks back—and I’ll assume you didn’t, since few viewers tune in for that annual schlockfest—you might have been misled.
To celebrate her lifetime achievement-ish Video Vanguard Award, J.Lo took the stage to perform a medley of songs, including early hits that found heavy rotation when MTV was still something of a music video channel. It was a typical awards show mishmash, cramming too much music, choreography and flashy stage spectacle into a nearly 10-minute performance capped by her new single “Dinero” and a wholly unnecessary appearance by DJ Khaled, who actually shouted, “Standing ovation!” while J.Lo was receiving one. (Why do we keep giving this guy the mic when we know what he’s going to do with it?)
It’s not that Lopez didn’t give Deadpool-style maximum effort; that’s the only gear she knows. There was just too much TV cheese melted on top. Don’t think that’s what happens at Jennifer Lopez: All I Have, the residency show that finishes its two-year run at Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater this month. Vegas J.Lo is optimal J.Lo. I’ve seen every major Strip headliner performing in this new era of “resident” shows and none have exceeded my expectations like this one.
Lopez might not have Elton’s catalog of classics, Celine’s vocal power, Bruno’s chart dominance or Britney’s pop-culture cachet, but as an all-around entertainer, none of those huge names come close. She could be the greatest dancing headliner in the history of the Strip, but the one-time In Living Color fly girl truly does it all in All I Have. She glams it up in costume changes galore, deep-dives into her Bronx hip-hop roots, gets sweaty in a burlesque-style number that might make you blush, dips into James Brown funk, Latin jazz and reggaeton and wraps it all up like the biggest club dance party ever. The energy never wanes for 90-plus minutes, because the headliner seems to have it in infinite quantities.
This type of Strip production is typically built around the star, with splashy effects, a live band and dance troupe added to amplify the experience depending on the headliner’s strengths and weaknesses. The J.Lo show has all the extras but feels completely organic. It’s built differently, because the headliner doesn’t have obvious weaknesses. This is the show she was born to perform in, and it’s no surprise that her career has seen something of a resurgence since she started working in Vegas. Lopez is doing what she loves, which is everything.
“Music, acting, performing—this career has always been kind of an obsession for me,” she said during her Video Vanguard acceptance speech. “When people have said, ‘You’re doing too much; you can only do one thing,’ … I was always a person who was like, ‘Why not?’ So I had to forge my own path and make my own rules.”
JENNIFER LOPEZ: ALL I HAVE September 7-29, 9 p.m., $109-$249. Zappos Theater, 702-785-5882.