Jennifer Lopez at The O2, Dublin on October 19th 2012

It’s a sad state of affairs when being 43 is considered ‘past it’. The O2 isn’t looking too bloated tonight, in fact, it’s lost a little weight. Jennifer Lopez is about to take to an Irish stage for the first time ever, surely that’s an event worth splashing out for?

“Sure she wouldn’t come during the boom, when she was popular”, says a waiting doorman discussing his quiet night. Inside, it’s confirmed. About a third of the arena has been closed off—discreetly, of course, it took a while to register the sturdy curtain as anything other than a wall. But what’s left is shuffling, excited, as a luxurious curtain containing only the word ‘JLO’ above a flamboyant diamond, shivers in the breeze in anticipation.

While Lady Gaga throws any random old shit onto a stage and calls it art, Madonna tries her hardest to stay ‘relevant’ and fresh, and Britney just goes through the motions – Lopez knows what she’s here for: Shut up and play the hits.

An old-school Broadway setup introduces us to the show, glamorous men in top hats and women adorned in feathers lance around the stage until JLO is revealed, shaping behind the curtain. Fashioning a huge Russian furry hat, a luxurious feather skirt and rhinestone bodice that probably cost more than your house, she’s like “Yeah, it’s me, lucky you.” There’s no modesty here, no humble faux-appreciation or Taylor Swift ‘shock face’, JLO is gracing you with her presence and you better reciprocate.

Get Right is the perfect introduction, with opening sirens drowning the O2, off comes the feathers to make room for shockingly tight dance moves. I don’t know what we were expecting but it was certainly more ‘Mum dancing’ than ‘gliding around the stage as if set on tracks.’ The lighting and excessive wind-machine hit her at all the right angles, like a moving cover shoot, post-airbrushing and all.

The audience—in shock or what—don’t return the love that much, they’re more in awe than anything. The hits kept coming relentlessly, with stripper-sofas stirring for My Love Don’t Cost A Thing and finally coercing everyone out of their seats for Latin infused I’m Into You. Hit-seekers recoil with the force, thumped steady and overwhelmingly. Pyrotechnics, glitter, bang, bang.

“I always wondered what Dublin felt like”, hypes Lopez. “It tickles”, she giggles, about as convincingly as her performance in Giglo. But if she’s insincere in her flattery, her inner-entertainer is as natural as they come.

Sharp lasers attacked the O2 as Waiting for Tonight thunders from a seriously busy stage. Lopez is out of breath, relying on the audience for the chorus. Her vocals are heavily supplemented, but what she does belt out, is enough to secure her a fair effort. As relentless dancing causes her vocals to suffer, some production is clumsy, and you kind of what to tell her to have a sit down and a nice cuppa’. Costume changes are covered up with bizarre skits, such as a boxing match between two of her oiled-up dancers, ready to literally hit the crowd with more hits. Out she comes in a boxing outfit Katie Taylor wouldn‘t be caught dead in – girly and sparkly, a hood covering her gravity-defying volume. She‘s Goin’ In, with Flo Rida appearing on the big-screen behind her and setting the tone for her heavily cameoed catalogue.

They’re utilised well during her Bronx skit, while the stage is turned into an urban New York city scene. A mash-up medley of I’m Real, All I Have and Aint It Funny sees Ja Rule dictate the show above baseball-cap clad dancers swinging from wire-fences, with Lopez baiting Jenny from the Block to the audience like holding a treat above an excitable puppy.

A sit-down acoustic version of If You Had My Love proves to be less exhilarating than the previous stompers, while Until It Beats No More takes on a whole new meaning as family photographs of her young twins appear on-screen in various states of cuteness.

But enough mushy stuff, and Let’s Get Loud. Lopez opens the Latin infused carnival by hitting bongos and spinning around the stage at a breakneck speed. Flamingo feathers cover her as she changes clothes (read:takes some off), it’s all very family-friendly burlesque.

Papi goes down a storm, as Lopez plays the audience’s ladies against the ‘papis’ in a cheering match, while Pitbull flashes on-screen to open On The Floor, instantly transforming the O2 into the kind of nightclub you’d see on The Hills. JLO sits on a throne, clearly reminding us all that yes, she’s still better than us. Lasers overlap a strange Spanish choral intro, while the chorus thunders around the excitable O2, punctuated with sparklers and bursting pyrotechnics.

A short encore is interposed with screened phrases such as ‘Love for me is a journey not a destination’, cementing the fact that Lopez is indeed the type of girl who constantly posts inspirational quotes to her Facebook feed. A provocative rendition of Dance Again shows us out with a shower of blinding glitter, like the girliness forced into the O2 just got too much and it had to throw up.

Thus concluded a visually insane, glamorous, and excessive pop master-class. The Dance Again tour is a celebration of all things alluring, luxurious and theatrical. JLO knows what she’s about, she’s not simply Jenny from the block anymore – the girl set her sights on the big lights of the neighbouring borough. Now she’s under the glow, showing the best of them exactly how it’s done.

Jennifer Lopez Photo Gallery

Photos: Michelle Geraghty