Enrique Iglesias Delivers A Candid, Rugged Musical Valentine In New York

Even unwilling boyfriends succumb to crossover pop star's suave moves.

NEW YORK CITY — It may be the single night of the year

most men would even consider being seen at an Enrique Iglesias concert,

but on this Valentine's Day, one would have been hard-pressed to tell

who among the droves of boyfriends in the capacity crowd at Radio City

Music Hall had been dragged unwillingly. From the moment the Latin

heartthrob took the stage, with Valentine's Day wishes and exhortations

to "get drunk and have fun," his trademark sex appeal became the

backdrop for a more candid, rugged and surprisingly funny Enrique than

might have been expected, one who seemed to win over the audience's

male holdouts immediately.

That doesn't mean he left his hot bod behind, of course. Clad in

distressed leather pants, knit cap and a tight white T-shirt he would

later replace with a hyperventilation-inducing wife-beater, Iglesias

was nothing if not sexy. Something subtle about tonight's brilliant

smile and distant gaze, however, made the pop star more palatable to

his diverse audience. Besides the usual young girls, in impossibly

small tops and jeans better suited for Malibu than Manhattan in the

winter, women and men of all ages filled the hall.

Iglesias' performance reflected this. After lively renditions of "One

Night Stand," from 2001's Escape, and "Bailamos" and "Rhythm

Divine" from Iglesias' breakout English-language debut, Enrique,

he launched into a titillating version of "Could I Have This Kiss

Forever" with a backup singer whose Shakira-esque gyrations almost

overshadowed her incredible voice. The video-screen close-up of

Iglesias' hand on the woman's hindquarters sent many an emboldened date

to his feet, and couples all over could be seen swaying to the ballad.

By the time the onstage couple dropped to the ground, with Iglesias

singing above the woman seductively, the hot-and-bothered audience's

clamor had reached the upper registers.

Iglesias' ability to focus his emotional energy into intense, seemingly

personal moments like these — an inherited talent, father Julio's

fans would say — played particularly well. Even with his voice

reverberating off the walls and fans screaming his name, he still

appeared to whisper to his girl, enraptured. Even when the Madrid

native sat down to sing some of the earnest Spanish songs he'd written

in his teens (following a "set change" that consisted of bringing out

what he called the "ugliest couch" his team could find), the many

listeners either unfamiliar with the ballads, or deficient in Spanish,

stuck with him.

When Iglesias called two couples ("40 and up," at his request) onstage,

it felt like an intimate private party. His borderline-shy reminiscing,

recurring offers of "beer, whiskey, wine," and nearly constant banter

("Are you going to get married?") contributed to the atmosphere. He

sang "Por Amarte," off his 1995 Spanish-language debut, and, after an

attempt to translate it for the English-speaking couples, abashedly

relented on the grounds that it "sounds stupid." He rounded out the

boyishly self-conscious interlude with Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on

Heaven's Door," which he said he played "over and over" when he moved

to Miami from Madrid at the age of seven, and which he sang with a

sincerity inherent to childhood.

Nearly an hour and a half after Iglesias took the stage, the crowd was

primed for the hard-dancing, fist-pumping sing-along that has become a

staple of pop-concert encores. And Iglesias, the pop world's Chris

Isaak-meets-Axl Rose, didn't disappoint. "Not in Love," the energetic

new single from his current album, Seven, got the girls

screaming again. Giving them what they wanted, Iglesias sang his

heartfelt hit "Hero," from 2003's Escape, to Nora, a visiting

Vietnamese girl whose hands he grabbed midsong and placed squarely on

his storied rear end, to the audible delight of all. "Be With You" and,

appropriately, Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" closed the

festivities in a flurry of white confetti as Iglesias jumped around and

enthusiastically ran up and down random fixtures, urging everyone from

the balconies to the front row to get loud and give him more.

Amid the chaos, one boyfriend could be heard apparently recanting

earlier statements, declaring, "This was a f---ing great idea!" That

seemed the prevailing sentiment. As exhausted, satisfied Enrique fans

spilled out onto the cold New York streets, one got the sense the night

was far from over. One rapidly growing group continued the evening's

revelries outside Iglesias' buses, waiting to greet the stuff of sweet

adolescent dreams himself.

For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out

MTV News Tour Reports.