Monday, June 21, 2004

The stars have definitely aligned for Jessica Simpson. “What would you change about your life if you could?” asked one of her starry-eyed fans, a contest winner invited to join her onstage during Saturday’s concert at Nissan Pavilion.

“Wooo,” Miss Simpson said, exhaling with a smile, pausing to think and struggling for an answer. “Life’s pretty good right now,” she eventually replied.

Indeed it is.

With a hit record and a popular reality television series, Miss Simpson has become a household name and an artist Mom and Dad can enjoy along with the kids. Her tour, dubbed the Jessica Simpson Reality Tour, proves that not only can the singer hold her own — without the MTV cameras rolling and sans hottie hubby Nick Lachey — but she’s as much a real person as she is a superstar.

With commentary about swallowing bugs onstage and which of her favorite foods gives her indigestion (beans, she told her capri-clad audience), it’s hard not to like the 23-year-old Texas native.

After a surprisingly catchy set by newcomer and soon-to-be-heartthrob Ryan Cabrera, a reel of “TV Jess”— a spoof on her MTV series “Newlyweds”— blared on the venue’s three giant screens. At its conclusion, a deafening scream rose, and Miss Simpson, clad in a shredded bubble-gum-colored dress, ascended the stage in true megastar fashion, bursting forth with her 1999 hit “I Think I’m in Love.”

Perfectly tanned and toned, the good-natured blond bombshell wowed the mostly female audience — a mix of preteens, twentysomethings, families and obedient boyfriends — with enough shimmying and shaking for a hearty smoothie. Tastefully sexy, Miss Simpson was, at that moment, everything most of her bare-shouldered, admiring female fans want to be: beautiful, talented, successful, happily married and a total pop sensation.

Her concert was as much about her music as her famous life, featuring “best-of” clips from the show — including, of course, her notorious “is this chicken or fish?” inquiry while eating Chicken of the Sea tuna. She approached the crowd as a friend, thanking them for their continued support and performing every single off her 2004 release, “In This Skin.” She even dedicated one of its songs, “I Have Loved You,” to soldiers overseas and their families amid ongoing film footage of military farewells and reunions.

Watching her sing, the ditzy space-cadet escapades could be easily forgotten. Instead, fans attending Saturday’s show will remember her powerful voice, commanding stage presence and a woman who clearly can stand on her own.

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