Shakira Trots Out "Mongoose"

Singer does everything except laundry at world tour kickoff

Midway through her hour-and-forty-five-minute set on opening night of the Tour of the Mongoose, Shakira informed the sold-out crowd at the San Diego Sports Arena, "Pop stars are not supposed to talk about politics." This served to introduce the Spanish-language anthem, "Octavo Dia," during which the Colombian superstar went ahead and did just that. As she belted out the tune with the aid of the crowd, a video behind her showed men wearing George W. Bush and Sadaam Hussein masks engaged in a chess match. Halfway through the clip, the two masked men were revealed to be puppets, with the Grim Reaper manipulating their movements.

Without missing a beat, Shakira and her nine-piece band then launched into Laundry Service's disco-flavored "Ready for the Good Times." As she did throughout the night, she swiveled her hips, shook her can, and bounded about the stage with the sexuality and confidence of Mick Jagger and Madonna's love child.

The Tour of the Mongoose's opening-night set was clearly designed to show off its star's many sides. In addition to singing and interacting with the crowd in both English and Spanish and dancing (a universal language), Shakira played guitar, harmonica and even drums, as an intro to the Pat Benatar-esque "Rules." As if that wasn't enough, she saved rock & roll with covers of Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady" and AC/DC's "Back in Black," the latter featuring a grinding, bluesy intro and a tango with the mic that would've made a stripper blush.

The Colombian singer had all the moves down. During the opening "Ojos Asi," she mesmerized the crowd with her belly dancing, bathed in a mist of smoke. The pyrotechnics were in full effect, with flames shooting up from the side of the stage like a WWE event, and an explosion during the encore of "Whenever, Wherever" spouted a sea of confetti over the floor and rafters. Shakira, who's said repeatedly she comes from a rock background, in that way stole from the best of arena rock: whether it was playing electric guitar on "Fool," a song that had a Stevie Nicks-twang to it, surrounding herself with bongo drums during "Objection," or writhing on the floor during "Estoy Aqui," she embodied all the glitz and glamour of good old-fashioned rock & roll.

As the best performers do, though, she maintained control of the stage while being generous with her band and sharing the spotlight. During the reggae-tinged "Un Poco de Amor," her keyboardist joined her at the front of the stage to sing the reggae parts, and her guitarists were given frequent solos.

Shakira told Rolling Stone earlier this year that she planned to "seduce America." The kickoff of the tour, nearly a year to the day of the release of Laundry Service, offered a chance to find out if she's met her goal. The answer is resoundingly yes. In today's pop music scene, stardom is an art form, and Shakira has unquestionably mastered it.