SAN DIEGO — On opening night of her Tour of the Mongoose, Shakira proved she is in fact the Colombian Britney Spears … as well as the Colombian Sheryl Crow, the Colombian Elvis Presley, the Colombian Tommy Lee, the Colombian John Popper, the Colombian Rage Against the Machine … and the list could continue.
In her nearly two-hour show at the sold-out San Diego Sports Arena, the 25-year-old entertainer showed so many sides to herself it was hard to believe it was the same Shakira all night long.
Not only did she flirt like Britney, play the guitar like Sheryl, shake her hips like Elvis, hit the drums like Tommy, play the harmonica like John and take a political stance like Rage, she did them all and more, naturally and compellingly.
Shakira also showcased her Colombian roots on the first night of her first world tour, performing more than half of her songs in Spanish and incorporating belly dancing into much of the choreography.
The show opened with a rousing rendition of “Ojos Así,” the original Spanish version of Laundry Service’s “Eyes Like Yours.” Two guitarists, the centerpiece of a solid nine-piece band, played the song’s opening riffs behind a massive stage curtain depicting a mongoose (known for its ability to kill poisonous snakes) and a cobra preparing for battle. When the curtains split, a giant cobra at center stage began to rise, slowly revealing the evening’s headliner.
Barefoot and wrapped in black leather pants and a black bikini top, Shakira slid right into a sexy dance routine hotter than the six-foot flames that shot from the stage.
Shakira shimmied into another rocker, “Si Te Vas,” before donning a guitar for the mid-tempo “Fool,” which displayed her rich Linda Perry-like voice.
She then ventured into the salsa-flavored “Ciega Sordomuda” complete with a dance breakdown, pyrotechnic explosions and the first of many inspirational quotes to appear on the monitors: “The surest way to happiness is to a lose yourself in a cause greater than yourself.”
After slowing down for a ballad, Shakira exited the stage while a humorous skit featuring doctors reviving Elvis played on the monitors. With the words “rock ’n’ roll will never die” towering above the stage, she stormed back in Axl Rose attire (minus the headband) for a cover of Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” featuring a crowd-pleasing harmonica solo.
She then switched into a sultry jazz routine a la Norah Jones and began singing lines that sounded familiar but were hard to place. Suddenly, her guitar player broke into one of the most familiar riffs in rock and it was clear what classic Shakira was covering next — AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” While she opted to sing the chorus rather than scream it Brian Johnson-style, the song took on an added flavor when Shakira went into an elaborate pole dance, looking more erotic than even the most skilled of strippers.
As if every guy in attendance (maybe a quarter of the audience) weren’t already preparing their marriage proposals, Shakira exited the stage and quickly returned with another turn-on. As her band began “Rules,” a drum kit rose from the rear of the stage with none other than Shakira banging on the skins.
After “Inevitable” and a few more numbers from 1998’s Dónde Están Los Ladrones? and 1995’s Pies Descalzos, during which most of the diverse crowd sang along to every word, Shakira announced she would play a song she wrote for herself, “but now belongs to you” — “Underneath Your Clothes.” When she wasn’t crooning the beautiful ballad, Shakira blew kisses to her fans and accepted them with a hand to her heart.
She then upped the pace for “Estoy Aqui,” which found her showing all sorts of dance skills, even an impressive robot.
“Octavo Día” followed and caused a few laughs when the band put on rubber masks of various political leaders. The laughter continued as a grainy video started showing President Bush and Saddam Hussein puppets playing chess. Amusement slowly turned to shock as the video began interspersing violent war footage and gradually revealed the puppeteer was the Grim Reaper.
Wisely, Shakira brightened up the arena — literally — as the stage floors lit up in various rainbow colors for the upbeat “Ready for the Good Times.” She then introduced her band and brought out her keyboard player to duet and dance on the reggae-influenced “Un Poco de Amor.”
After a few more mid-tempo songs, most of the band strapped on bongo drums to perform “Objection (Tango)” pretty much the way Shakira performed it at the MTV Video Music Awards in August (see “Guns N’ Roses Cap Night Of Spectacles From Diddy, Eminem, Timberlake” ).
The hit, which featured Shakira’s best belly dancing yet, closed the first set and had the audience screaming for an encore.
Their applause was answered when Shakira rose from a front platform moving her hips while balancing a chandelier on her head. As odd as it looked, it was still an impressive feat. (And speaking of feat, her other feet stayed bare the entire show.)
Shakira’s encore was an extended version of “Whenever, Wherever” made to feel even more celebratory by the massive amount of confetti shot on the crowd midway through. As the song winded down, a black-and-white video showed a mongoose attacking a cobra. When the clip ended, the words “bite the head of hatred” appeared on the screen and the house lights came on, leaving the audience with a message to take home.
Pay the Girl, a five-piece rock band from Cincinnati, opened the show with a short set evoking Matchbox Twenty and Vertical Horizon. With an arena full of Latin rock and pop fans, they were an odd fit, to say the least.
Shakira’s Tour of the Mongoose continues Tuesday at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California (see “Shakira Announces Whenever, Wherever Of World Tour” ).
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.