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Love that Luis!

By Rose Ybarra / Monitor Staff Writer

HIDALGO — He’s been captivating audiences for more than 20 years and yet his live performances remain fresh and full of energy.

It’s no wonder 33-year-old Luis Miguel built a reputation for putting on great shows. Looking dapper, as always, in a crisp black suit and tie, the Mexican crooner entertained a sizeable crowd Wednesday night at Dodge Arena in the first of a two-day stand at the new venue.

Opening with “Vuelve,” an upbeat tune from his latest CD, 33, a trim Luis Miguel had the ladies squealing from the first bar.

He kept the audience on the edge of their seats with his charm, velvety smooth voice and his ease with love songs.

Magda Martinez of Brownsville attended Luis Miguel’s concert on South Padre Island three years ago and looked forward to another strong performance Wednesday before the concert.

“He’s excellent,” she said. “That’s why I’m here again.”

Edith Garcia of McAllen was seeing Luis Miguel for the first time. After Martinez raved about his show at the Island, she was eager to see him first hand.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I’ve been wanting to see him for years. I’m a hard-core fan.”

The impressive stage featured three large screens with a close up projection of Luis Miguel in the center. The screens were flanked by large columns topped with flames.

It was something local concert-goers hadn’t seen before in deep South Texas. But the vast Dodge Arena is able to accommodate more elaborate sets than Valley residents were used to.

“It feels like we’re in San Antonio,” said Angie Martinez of Brownsville. Angie Martinez, who also attended last week’s Alan Jackson concert, praised the sound system in the arena.

“The acoustics are perfect,” she said. “I thought my ears would be ringing after the concert.”

While performing the song, “Perfidia,” a fan tossed a teddy bear on stage. A charismatic Luis Miguel danced around with the stuffed animal before throwing it back to a throng of screaming women.

With the lift of his hand, Luis Miguel commanded the crowd to its feet as he sang, “Eres,” another song from 33.

He finally addressed the audience after that song.

“This is a celebration,” he said. “A celebration of 33 years of life for me and celebrating more than 20 years of singing to you. I hope I will continue to interpret many, many more songs for each and every one of you for years to come.” Luis Miguel continued, “Tonight I will sing songs from my new album. … And I will also sing songs I haven’t sung in more than 15 years.”

Hearing that he would perform old-school material brought about a chorus of cheers from the crowd.

Luis Miguel literally grew up on the international stage. A shaggy-headed, buck toothed Luis Miguel first hit the radio airwaves in the early 1980s with bubble-gum songs such as “1+1=2 Enamorados.”

The four-time Grammy winner is up for his umpteenth honor, after receiving an American Music Award nomination for Favorite Artist – Latin Music. The awards show is slated for Nov. 16.