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JON SECADA FILLS SHEA'S WITH PASSION

The Jon Secada show was so hot that even old Satan and his minions might have scorched a cloven hoof or horn if they had dared to step on stage with the star-crossed, Cuban-born singer Tuesday at the Shea's Performing Arts Center.

Stand back! Give the man some room! Secada is bustin' out!

The 32-year-old singer/songwriter has enough stage presence and sex appeal to make Michael Bolton look like Mr. Peepers.

If he isn't the next pop music mega-star, you can cancel my subscription to the resurrection.

Don't try to tell the young woman who waved a tiny Cuban flag at the stage for nearly two hours that the object of her affection wasn't the most exciting performer to come along since Elvis.

I have no doubt that 30 years from now she'll be showing that miniature flag to her granddaughter and telling her, in Spanish, about the night she saw Jon Secada reduce the huge Shea's Buffalo stage to the size of a heartbeat with his larger-than-life presence.

Secada's well-polished show combined elements of old and new show business -- fancy and casual dress, formal and funky material. In addition to possessing a well-trained voice that skips from light baritone to soaring falsetto, he displayed all the passion that one identifies with Hispanic culture.

He didn't need any of that trite theme music from "2001, A Space Odyssey" to pump up the opening to his show. "The Jet Song" from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" set the tone and literarily dropped the curtain on a 19-song, two-encore performance that kept row upon row of young women dancing in their seats.

It was a black chic show with the stage, musicians, back-up singers and Secada all sporting the nouveau-hip color.

A bright-colored backdrop that looked like a Georges Braque cubist painting overlooked two steep ramps that stretched toward the audience. Ensconced between the two embracing arms of the ramps was a six-piece band modeled on The Miami Sound Machine.

When the band kicked off the opener, "La La La," and Secada and his three back-up singers came singing and dancing down the ramps, my pulse leap-frogged. Driving drums mixed with Latin percussion and a rachet-tight guitar provided a rock-solid beat that Secada's voice floated over like Forest Gump's soulful feather.

With scarcely a pause for applause, the singer/songwriter launched into "Do You Believe In Us" that had the effect of a Tinkerbell re-affirmation when the largely female crowd responded with an emphatic, "Yes!"

He shucked his double-breasted black suit jacket after "Misunderstood," his third song, working the crowd in his shirt sleeves for the rest of the evening.

Coming off a two-day layoff, Secada was spring fresh. It showed in his exuberance and voice.

On three separate occasions, he struggled to sincerely express the joy he was experiencing performing for the wildly enthusiastic Buffalo audience. In the end, it was his sincerity and seven short words that carried the message. "You have really made this very special."

For Denise, a willowy blond from Niagara Falls, the night was doubly special. When she and her girlfriend Debbie decided to go to the Secada concert, little did she realize that she would end up on stage being serenaded by the good-looking, sexy singer.

Secada's music provided a good argument for multi-culturalism. It was a telling blend of American pop and rock delivered with a soulful Latin feeling.

For Hispanic-Americans in the audience, Secada provided an additional cultural touchstone. After singing the beginning of "Angel," in English, he asked if anyone spoke Spanish and then sang the rest of the song in Spanish.

Despite the fact that he won a Grammy, Secada readily acknowledges singers who have influenced him. Marvin Gaye's "Good Feeling," which Secada included in his new CD, "Heart, Soul and a Voice," demonstrated the soulful qualities of the past that he has incorporated into his personal style.

"Another Star," a swirling carnival of Caribbean sound and enchantment, best demonstrated the qualities that make Secada special. Both the song and singer had passion, fire, and a straightforward way of burrowing into one's heart, mind and ears.

REVIEW
Jon Secada.

Hispanic Grammy-winning singer/songwriter.

Tuesday night in Shea's Performing Arts Center.

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