No one sits for long at a Juan Luis Guerra concert, and the very few who did at the Agganis Arena on Sunday looked sorely out of place. For nearly two hours, the beloved Dominican singer-songwriter and his band, 440, gave the audience a workout that whirled through merengue, bachata, rock, salsa, jazz, African and Caribbean musical influences, and inspirational Christian songs. If the lightning-fast merengues didn't exhaust you, the nonstop dancing in the aisles did.
Backed by six horn players, at least as many percussionists, a keyboardist, a pianist, and three backup singers who doubled as dancers, Guerra proved he was still a showman. First, in synch with a video being shown on the jumbo screens, Guerra was lowered from the ceiling in a crate that read ''Fragile." Other projections instructed the audience to dance a particular way, and, later, the Bibical passage John 3:16 was shown during ''Tan Sólo He Venido," from Guerra's latest album, ''Para Ti," which explores his conversion to Christianity.
Guerra's concert was part of a weeklong celebration of the 30th anniversary of WBUR's ''¡Con Salsa!" radio program. In introducing Guerra, José Massó, the program's host, noted that the show marked the first Latin concert at Agganis. Next in the series is Colombian singer Carlos Vives, scheduled for Aug. 28.
It takes a dynamic performer to make Agganis, which can seat more than 7,200 people, feel comfy, though it was obvious the show was far from sold out. Still, Guerra drew a massive crowd of people who seemed to know his every lyric. It was a homecoming of sorts for Guerra, who lived in Boston as a student at Berklee College of Music, from which he graduated in 1982 with a diploma in jazz composition.
Drawing on 20 years of eclectic musical directions, Guerra opened with ''Soldado," in which he stated he was a ''soldier for Christ." Even his ballads, such as ''Como Abeja al Panal," burned with a bachata undercurrent that salvaged what otherwise could have been a soggy arrangement. ''Ojalá que Llueva Café" remains his most triumphant song, and it immediately induced a singalong and a sea of arms waving across the arena.
Guerra's charisma was lacking in opening act Hector Montaner, a long-haired crooner fond of blowing kisses to the video camera while singing bland ballads over programmed, synthesizer-heavy accompaniment.