September 4, 2004
The Arena At Gwinnett - Duluth, GA


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Wow! This has to be the feel good show of the year. It was also a perfect way to wrap the summer. Gloria’s calling this her Farewell Tour so she’s pulling out all the stops just in case it actually is. From the elaborate opening that featured a giant uni-culture icon coming to life to the get-close-to-the-fans finale of “I Wish You,” the Latina diva meant to please. That’s just what she and her massive band did. “Get On Your Feet” started it off and it was rare for anyone to sit after that. Numbers like “Turn The Beat Around”, “1,2,3” and “Party Time” made getting up and moving irresistible. At times, it was almost overwhelming. There were more than ten musicians onstage who ably removed the studio gloss, making ‘80s post-disco sound timeless. With approximately the same number of dancers on stage, there was lots of eye candy, too.

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With this, it was back to the spectacle…and it just kept getting bigger. First, “Conga” took everyone higher. Then, for “I Live For Loving You,” the dancers took up huge puppets. Flying fish swirled over the crowd; flamingos danced, and giant beach balls were tossed out. There was movement everywhere and even still, it wasn’t enough! With all of this going on, confetti started pouring through the arena for the impossibly giddy “I Just Want To Be Happy.” Somehow, even computer generated bouncing smiley faces on the video screen worked in this context.

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Not only has Estefan mastered the massive but a solo set with one mic and her guitar proved that she could be equally entertaining without the excess. After performing a day-in-the-life-of-Gloria tune called “Famous,” she turned on the humor by doing parodies of her own songs. “Anything For Food” was one that got the biggest response. Before she went back to the full band, the proud mama invited her 9-year old daughter Emily out to show what she’d learned recently. The girl confidently strode to the massive trap set behind her. After a couple of adjustments, she laid into a dance beat thick enough to make George Clinton take notice. The crowd roared. Proud papa Emilio beamed from the soundboard. Gloria cattily added, “She kept hearing, the rhythm is gonna get you, the rhythm is gonna get you. Well, it got her, what can I say?” before launching into that number.

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The party never let up. Even after she shook hands with practically everyone around the stage for “I Wish You” and the camera followed her to the dressing room before going black, people were dancing. They danced right out of the venue, still singing and smiling. If this is farewell, what a way to go!

(Chris McKay /