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.