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Tañón Show Vibrant, Energetic

By THOMAS KINTNER, Special To The Courant

29 November 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE HARTFORD COURANT. All rights reserved. 

The immense stardom Olga Tañón enjoys in her native Puerto Rico has not made her a household name on the mainland, but her singular way with merengue music has earned her a loyal following among stateside listeners who appreciate the style.

Saturday night she headlined a bill that featured a diverse trio of Latin-leaning acts at the slightly more than half-filled Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, and sparked her slot with a vibrant, high-energy show long on polish and distinct personality.

Abetted by a 13-piece band plus a quartet of enthusiastic dancers, Tañón was nonetheless able to remain the center of attention throughout her show with her displays of thick, muscular singing and good-natured attitude. She added throaty punch to "El Frio De Tu Adios" atop a thick bed of keyboards and a fluttering Latin lilt, all while the brass section behind her added bright flair to the tune.

The 37-year-old Tañón matched moves with her dance troupe while powering a lineup built entirely on upbeat fare similar to her cover of Celia Cruz's "La Negra Tiene Tumbao," giving the show a choreographed polish that never seemed robotic. Part of its vitality was due to Tañón's chatty, comfortable stage presence, which occasionally had a quaint feel to it, but more often seemed relaxed and friendly.

The airy bounce of "Como Olvidar" was one of many crowd-pleasing trips into familiar territory in her 13-song set, which was almost entirely in Spanish but for a quick snippet of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" near show's end in deference to any English-only show-goers. A fast flurry delivery of her hit single "Muchacho Malo" capped the show in solid fashion, as she enticed her audience with one last irresistible taste of agreeable dance energy.

Second-billed was Don Omar, one of the biggest names in Reggaeton music, whose set was marked by the peculiar blend of rap, reggae and dance music that characterizes the style. Joined by a pair of dancers and a DJ, Omar punctuated his melodic, near-singing raps with frequent displays of explosive pyrotechnics, all to the delight of an audience that shrieked and roared for his every offering,

Opening the program was Obie Bermudez, whose flavorless, pop-style grooves were a far cry from the interesting salsa foundations he established on his first album. His lukewarm, breathy singing made him sound insufficiently committed to music as anything but a route to second-rate seduction.

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