LIVE REVIEW: JENNIFER LOPEZ BRINGS HER PARTY EXTRAVAGANZA TO TORONTO'S SCOTIABANK ARENA

Photo by: Gabriel Goldman
Jennifer Lopez – no stranger to the stage, has been around the block for over twenty years and is currently celebrating her 50th birthday with fans around the world on her It's My Party:The Live Celebration TourAlthough her milestone birthday is sited as the main reason for the festivities, her massive career - in music alone, is one to memorialize. Her smash debut single "If You Had My Love" premiered almost exactly two decades ago and has since helped her build global success with eight studio albums, two compilations, one EP and 63 singles.

Following 30+ dates in North America, Lopez will kick-off the second leg of her tour – celebrating internationally, with performances in Israel, Russia, Turkey and Egypt.

Her fourth concert tour – preceeded by the El Cante Tour (with Marc Anthony), the Dance Again World Tour and the Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez Tour, was a culmination of all of the varying influences, cultures and eras of the star that fans have come to know and love over the ages of her entertainment career.

During her Sunday night set at the Scotiabank Arena, being only one of two Canadian city stops, J. Lo performed hits from all over her discography including mainstream chart-toppers, Spanish numbers and even a couple of covers.

Three opening acts  finalists Swing Latino, Briar Nolet and World of Dance winners The Lab, heated up the stage ahead of the night's highly-anticipated bash.

The lights were dim and the arena was lit up by onstage screens – showcasing a video montage, highlighting her personal and professional life. Candid images of Jennifer and her family transcend across the stadium, with sounds of an approaching subway in the background and a voice over by Lopez saying "I was just a dancer in New York and I was trying to make it." As the footage ended, cheers rung out for the birthday girl to take the stage.

Her dancers appeared first to set the scene for the extravaganza with flaming champagne in hand, before J. Lo descended from above, swinging from a glass-filled chandelier while singing "Medicine."

Photo by: Michael Amico/Live Nation
Early high points included giant balloons being thrown around the audience, a money gun during "Dinero", and Ja Rule appearing on-screen for a virtual duet of "I'm Real" and "Aint It Funny."

A crowd favourite off the set list was the 2002 anthem "Jenny from the Block." Jenny threw on a Yankees baseball cap, grabbed a bedazzled cane and took fans on a ride back to her hometown of the Bronx, in front of a digital line 6 subway car. When the song was over, she gave her hat to a lucky concert-goer in the crowd. 

She then gave a shout out to her current beau, Alex Rodriguez, who was enjoying the show from the floor with retired Toronto Maple Leafs player, Tie Domi. 

After delivering some of her throwback hits, J. Lo suggested that they "take this party to the strip club," before asking security to pick someone from the crowd with a July birthday for a very special and intimate gift. Reggie was welcomed on stage and when J. Lo asked when his birthday was, he laughed and replied with, "right now." He was granted with quite the birthday surprise, being seated and given a lap dance to the sultry sounds of Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" by Lopez's leopard print lingerie-wearing backup dancers.

Photo by: Michael Amico/Live Nation
A Toronto-fied rendition of "If You Had My Love" followed with a transition to Drake's "Teenage Fever" – the ballad off his mixtape More Life that is rumoured to be about their alleged fling, which also samples her debut single. The Canadian rapper also received an alluded mention during "Booty" when the track was interrupted by Drake's "Hotline Bling." When the chorus played out, one of the dancers held up a cellphone, in which J.Lo cheekily proclaimed "booty call!" before dramatically dancing off in the opposite direction. 

Following a very amped-up opening half, Lopez toned things down with a cover of "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles, which she said reminds her about life and the struggle of it. She later goes on to open up about her journey and inspirations - most notably her breakout role in Selena and proceeded to pay homage to both her Latin and acting roots by performing "Si Una Vez." 

"[Selena] taught me a lot, you know. How to navigate this crazy thing. People always ask me for advice. I always say 'what do you want to teach your children, what do you want your babies to know?' It's that they can do whatever they want to do, they can be whoever they want to be. That life is going to be hard and they are going to fall down sometimes but, mommy's going to be here anyways."


Photo by: Michael Amico/Live Nation
Accompanied by many dancers, background singers and band mates throughout, J. Lo's guest of honour joined her to cap off a medley of her latest release "Limitless" and Sia's "Titanium." Before her daughter Emme rose from beneath the stage - in the most heart-warming moment of the night, J. Lo introduced the Second Act track  written by Sia, with an inspirational address to the crowd about falling down, getting back up and always believing in yourself.

Sporting neon outfits, matching the rave vibe of the final portion of the concert, J. Lo and her dancers had everyone on their feet and moving along to her club anthems "Dance Again" and "On The Floor."

The already energetic crowd got even rowdier when J. Lo returned for an encore performance of "Let's Get Loud." The Sunday night spectacle ended with a bang as she was lifted in the air by her dancers, atop a tiered birthday-cake shaped platform – amidst fireworks, confetti, streamers and more giant balloons, before walking down the catwalk one last time to say her thank yous.

Photo by: Michael Amico/Live Nation
Jennifer Lopez continues to prove that age is nothing but a number and remains a huge inspiration for Hispanic artists, female entrepreneurs and anyone with a dream. As an actress, singer, dancer, producer and mother, this (almost) 50-year-old icon justifies that anyone can do anything at any point in their lives. Her It's My Party Tour showcased an all-encompassing collection of everything she holds dearly  tying in her love for dance, film, family, Latin culture and  of course, music. 

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