Culture / Entertainment

Ricky Martin Calls Houston Addictive, Keeps It Sexy and (Costume) Showy at the Rare Rodeo Concert That Promises More

This One's For All the Crazy Divas Out There

BY // 03.05.22

Teen heartthrob turned dangerously sexy global superstar Ricky Martin may have aged like fine wine and settled down with a hubby and gaggle of kids, but when he hits the stage he still knows how to bring that Livin’ La Vida Loca spirit.

For the multi-Grammy winner’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo concert debut, singer Ricky Martin came to play (or ride in this rodeo case), but so did dancer, fashion icon, actor and quadruple threat, ultimate showman Ricky Martin. With a fiery band, full horn section, a tumbling, Bon-Bon shaking troupe of male and female dancers, plus spectacular video and lighting backup, the man can put on a show.

Yes, versatile singer Martin (and I don’t just mean jumping between Spanish and English) came to fill and claim the vast NRG Stadium space with his velvety voice on Friday night. Most Houston Rodeo concert sets are confined to about an hour by official decree, but Martin still delivered some of the vocal highlights of his ground-breaking, multi-genre career from “Vida Loca” to “She Bangs,” “Maria” to “La Bomba,” “Shake Your Bon-Bon” to “Vuelve.”

Dancer Martin kept up the paces with his fabulous company of dancers. Yet, a good showman always knows when to share the spotlight, and several times the dancers opened and closed numbers as the costars, with flamenco flair and one stomping drum line routine that was definitely Broadway ready. For most of the concert, Martin sang and then raced across the stage jumping right into accompanying dance routine, moving with troupe, occasionally hip-grinding up close and sexy personally.

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Ricky Martin more than kept up with his skilled backup dancers. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

Fashionista Martin made an entrance with the first number, “Vida Loca” of course, with a black ensemble, leather, knee-length shorts and a black jacket that he converted into a cap by the next number. He stayed with a black and white palette for most of the concert but from shorts to kilt to tight pants to hoodie, the costume changes came pretty much every other song, and the fashion show went on and on.

Stage, screen and musical theater actor Martin hit his marks, as well, Friday night, especially for power ballads like the crowd favorite “Vuelve” but also for songs like “She Bangs” and “La Vida Loca.” Martin enunciated every word to note. He doesn’t just sing but sinks into the role of a song. And since his repertoire, includes several global hits, chronicling poor souls chasing crazy bitchier divas — let’s say crazy divas — through hellish, but musically upbeat, madcap adventures, actor Martin certainly brings those adventures to life.

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We might forget Martin has serious Broadway chops having played Marius in Les Miserables and Ché in Evita, but he reminds us with each song. The HoustonRodeo’s star-shaped stage also became the perfect performance set, as on more than one occasion, Martin walked out onto a point, reaching out to the audience as if to touch everyone in the crowd of 56,781 .

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Ricky Martin means plenty of pageantry. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

Throughout the hour-long concert, showman Martin spoke with the crowd directly, always drawing out louder and louder responses with a joking “I can’t hear you” whenever the masses didn’t quite meet his screaming expectations. For the light and firework spectacular finale, “La Copa de la Vida (The Cup of Life),” Martin turned the “Do you really want it?” line to a bit of a sexy tease.

Do we really want it? You really don’t have to ask, Ricky.

We’re at the Houston Rodeo after a two year pandemic break. Yes, sí, yes, we really want a night of she banging, shaking Vida Loca. And remember at the end, when you called  Houston beautiful, addictive, unforgettable and made everyone a promise you would return? You better keep that promise, Ricky Martin.

You know you don’t want to mess with us crazy bitches. . . er divas. Don’t mess with us crazy divas.

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