Physically, Ricky Martin looks little different from when he last toured New Zealand in 2000. But time has not been kind to the former pop superstar's career. At least, not in the English-speaking world.

The man behind 90s mega-hits She Bangs and Livin' La Vida Loca last played here to more than 20,000 fans at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium. He was riding high on a string of chart hits, pumped out by his debut English-language record.

But last night, as he kicked off his global One World tour at Vector Arena, less than 10,000 fans turned up. Earlier in the day, cut-price tickets were on offer for just $70.

Efforts to promote the tour back-fired following an appearance on X Factor NZ last month, which saw Martin ridiculed on social media after he lip-synched his way through the performance.


Those who did show up were a mix of 30-something women, ready to shake their bon bons, and older couples, who seemed more likely to attend a Nigel Latta seminar than the club fiesta of a Ricky Martin concert.

In interviews before the show, Martin had promised to play new material, some classics "and perhaps a few surprises".

Ricky Martin took the stage in a knee-length white sports jacket. Photo / Jason Dorday
Ricky Martin took the stage in a knee-length white sports jacket. Photo / Jason Dorday

But as he took the stage in a knee-length white sports jacket, he chose to open the night's proceedings with his latest dud single Mr Put It Down, followed by the equally tepid 2005 release This Is Good.

At least he appeared to be singing live. While most of the audience remained seated, trying to work out Martin's groove, a small but determined mosh pit formed around the stage as a handful of ardent devotees shunned their allocated seats for a closer look.

When he did finally come to an old favourite - Shake Your Bon Bon - it was a club remix version that felt even more dated than the original 1999 release.

It was a recurring annoyance throughout the night. She Bangs was given a dark, metal makeover, complete with dominatrix-clad backing dancers who thrashed about to the heavy beat.

Only once did Martin stick to the script, with the original version of Livin' La Vida Loca. It was easily the musical highlight of the night, made even better by Martin's deliberately hammed up dance routine.

Bizarrely, the next best moment of the night - which didn't come until after a long-winded ballad section and more obscure remixes - was when Martin stopped singing all together and instead took on the role of Zumba instructor, forcing everyone to their feet for a jaunty aerobics routine.


It wasn't what they came for but at least it woke the crowd up, limbering them up for Martin's classic finale - the same song he ended his Mt Smart show with - The Cup of Life.

The World Cup anthem managed to end the night on a high. But is still isn't enough to make this tour a winner.