Miami Beach

Miami Beach centennial concert rocks the crowd

Gloria Estefan gets the crowd dancing on stage at the Hard Rock Rising Miami Beach concert celebrating the city's centennial on Thursday, March 26, 2015.
Gloria Estefan gets the crowd dancing on stage at the Hard Rock Rising Miami Beach concert celebrating the city's centennial on Thursday, March 26, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The crowd of about 16,000 swooned over Italian singer Andrea Bocelli.

They sang along in English and Spanish with Hialeah-raised Jon Secada, who belted out his 1992 hit, Just Another Day.

And they danced in the aisles when Gloria Estefan opened her set with her 1987 global hit, “Rhythm is Gonna Get You.’’

“You can dance if you want to,’’ she said, shaking across the stage in a black sheath, white skirt and fringe-lined jacket.

She then introduced her daughter, Emily Estefan, for a duet of KC and the Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight, and let loose with Andy Garcia on the bongos in a spirited rendition of Mi Tierra.

Such were among the scenes Thursday night at Hard Rock Rising Miami Beach, the centennial concert marking the Beach’s 100th birthday. Among those entertaining the throngs on the sands at Eighth Street and Ocean Drive: Estefan, Secada, Bocelli, Barry Gibb, Wyclef Jean, DJ Irie, and dozens more, including the Miami Symphony Orchestra and guided by musical director Rudy Perez.

Nicole Henry, stunning in a blue gown, had fans riveted with her sultry set and a spirited rendition of America the Beautiful.

Barry Gibb, singing the Bee Gees’ popular 1975 hit, Jive Talkin,’ brought shouts of “I LOVE YOU BARRY’’ from the crowd.

“His hair looks great,’’ declared one concertgoer.

And TV weatherman Al Roker noted the Beach’s sea-rise concerns when he quipped: “In about 50 years, you’re going to be underwater.’’

That didn’t seem to faze the thousands who came to the concert, locals as well as tourists enjoying the sunny sands of South Beach and free concert.

Earlier in the afternoon, Janet Dance rode the bus down the length of Miami Beach with her friend Raffaella Pelliccione, peering out the window at the growing traffic snarls.

“I’m actually from Carl Fisher’s hometown, Greensburg, Indiana,” she said. “He did a lot for Miami Beach.”

How fitting that the two long-distance friends — Pelliccione, 38, is from Luxembourg and Dance, 44, lives in Indiana — stumbled upon the city’s centennial celebration on the last day of their yearly vacation.

Miami Beach incorporated on March 26, 1915, and the city’s leadership decided to throw a week-long, $1.5-million party to mark the occasion.

By around 5:30 p.m., people were streaming into the massive stage at Eighth Street and Ocean Drive. Free shuttles ran across the city day and night taking people to and from the action. Ocean Drive was closed to cars from Fifth Street to 15th Street.

Beach resident Olga Marina, 52, arrived early in the evening to get a good seat for Bocelli, who took the stage just before 8:30 p.m., suave in his white dinner jacket over black tux.

She gleefully fanned herself after she found out he was playing earlier in the evening.

"I just love him," she said. "He's magnificent. I've seen him twice, and now this is my third."

Alexis Rodriguez, 35, of Kendall, also came to see Bocelli. He lounged in a beach chair as he waited for the Maestro.

"I've never seen him before, so this is exciting," he said.

The afternoon began with opening acts like Afrobeta, Ky-Mani Marley and Al B. Sure! As the sun set, the white chairs and grandstands along the sides filled, and hundreds laid down beach towels and chairs to enjoy the music and party. Young and old danced and took selfies and videos.

As Bocelli performed, accompanied by the Miami Symphny Orchestra, a hush fell over the crowd.

His voice boomed over the whispers heard near the front of the stage by people who'd walked to get a closer look.

"Beautiful."

"That's gorgeous."

Some gushed over him loudly.

"Yes sir, that's the man right there. I love his voice, bro."

Follow @joeflech on Twitter and Instagram for live coverage tonight.

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