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Tour Of The Mongoose Concert Reviews

San Diego, CA - San Diego Sports Arena
SAN DIEGO - On opening night of her Tour of The Mongoose, Shakira proved she is in fact the Colombian Britney 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 Range, 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 Asi,'' the original Spanish verison 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 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 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 Donde Estan 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 Dia'' followed and caused a few laughs when the band put on ubber 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 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.
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 verison 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 ``bit 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.
Toronto, ON - Air Canada Centre
TORONTO - Colombian pop-rock sensation Shakira wasted no time pulling out a show-stopping, sensual display of belly dancing last night at the Air Canada Centre.
The 25-year-old singer, who broke through in North America with her 2001 English language debut, Laundry Service, was crouched beneath a giant cobra on stage and rose up from under it by wiggling her toned midriff during the opening song, Eyes Like Yours (Ojos Asi).
In fact, each time she let it rup in the belly departent, the crowd of about 10,000 -- well shy of a sell-out -- went completely nuts.
As it was, they were already on their feet, clapping and waving dozens of Colombian flags before the barefoot Shakira -- performing her first Toronto concert--even took the stage.
Helping the party mood was dramatic red lighting, plenty of smoke, firebursts, a nine-piece band -- anchored by two guitarists -- and Shakira's sexy outfit of black biniki top and black leather pants with plenty of tassles.
It was an electrifying opening, and proved hard to live up to for the rest of the night, despite explosions, a cool-looking catwalk that lit up in different colours, costume changes and confetti.
Still, the audience went crazy for such numbers as Ciega Sordomuda, Estoy Aqui, Octavo Dia -- this one featuring her band in the masks of world leaders -- the reggae-drenched Un Poco De Amor and Tu, presumable material from her five Spanish-language albums.
Not working as well were Shakira's rock shout-outs via covers of Aerosmith's Dude (Looks Like A Lady) and AC/DC's Back In Black, the latter featuring Shakira performing some Brass Rail-worthy dance moves on a metal bar. (I do realize in some quarters that's a combination that is applauded.)
Shakira also seemed determined to show off her musical prowess, playing electric guitar (Fool), harmonica (Dude), acoustic guitar (Inevitable), and drums (Rules), as the hour-and-45 minute performance wore on.
She fared better when she stuck to just singing and some serious displays of dancing, like during: The disco-happy number, Ready For The Good Times, which employed no less than eight disco balls; Objection (Tango), during which she was surrounded by five drummers and fiercely shook her hips; and the encore tune and her big breakthrough hit, Whenever, Wherever, when she rose from the floor of the stage inexplicably wearing a golden candelaba on her head as she belly-danced and, eventually, sang high above the crowd on a moving, elevated platform.
Shakira has called her road trip the Tour of the Mongoose and ``bite the neck of Hatred'' were the last words to be flashed on three video screens after she left the stage.
And while she didn't conquer evil, at the very least she put a smile on people's faces. If not always intentionally.
London, England - Wembley Arena
The intro tape of Doves, Massive Attack and finally, at full blast, Guns N Roses' `Welcome To the Jungle' is a good indicator of what is to follow. She might be the face of Pepsi and imaginatively pigeonholed as the `Latina Britney Spears' but Shakira is also good friends with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and a vocal opponent of war in Iraq. Tonight we will witness giant cobras, the philosophy of John Lubbock, candelabras as hats and a cover of AC/DC's `Back in Black'. Truly, this is the strangest show since the Flaming Lips' carnival last rolled into town.
Emerging from beneath the aforementioned snake, the tiny Colombian superstar kicks off with renditions of `Ojos Asi' and `Si Te Vas'. The lack of concession towards her UK audience is admirable. The Shakira voice is bombastic and she slinks and shimmers and generally walks like an Egyptian across the stage. A beguiling combination of blonde hair and left-field dramatics she appears immediately at odds with her competent but MOR backing band. Like Kate Bush fronting Mike and The Mechanics.
For the third song, ``Fool'', she straps on a guitar - she will later play both drums and harmonica - and then things take several turn to the weird. We get footage of Ozzy, Bowie, and Axl in hospital gown while the legend ``ROCK N ROLL WILL NEVER DIE'' flashes before us. The band plays Aerosmith and AC/DC covers while out heroine headbangs along in shiny tartan bondage trousers. Next, they don masks of political leades for `Octavo Dia' while the film switches to a chess game between George Bush and Saddam Hussein. The inevitable white dove and peace signs appear before a Studio 54 verison of `Ready For The Good Times' flips the mood again. This is all as good as it sounds.
It's carefully choreographed of course, down to the last pitter of the patter, but it works brilliantly. Compared to the cartoon machismo of Ricky `Android' Martin and Enrique `Sincerity' Iglesias, Shakira makes a real connection with her audience. She plays `Underneath You Clothes' and `Objection (Tango)' and they wave lighters and bop in the aisles accordingly, eating from the palm of her hand.
The closing `Whenever, Wherever' - where the flaming candelabra makes it's appearance - brings the house down. Shakira wiggles furiously, is hydraulically lifted over the crowd (who are showered in ticker tape) and finally disappears through a hole in the ground. Arena rock like it should be.
Phoenix, AZ - America West Arena
PHOENIX -- Shakira had two goals in mind Friday night at America West Arena: to rock and conquer.
The singer, who turns 26 on Sunday, didn't fail. From the first raise of her hip to her last, this rockera left the enthusiastic crowd spellbound.
She began the show by emerging from under a giant gilded snake at the center of the stage and the 'floating' atop a layer of smoke. The song was the mesmerizing Arabic-tinged Ojos Asi, in which the singer used to offer her first round of extreme belly vibrating magic to her fans. The popular Si Te Vas followed and even inspired an uplifting sing-along. She continued with cuts from her beloved 2001 disc, Laudry Service.
The Colombian singer alternated her two-hour performance with English titles from the crossover disc, and several from her Spanish albums including: Shakira: MTV Unplugged. Among the blend were Objection (Tango), Underneath Your Clothes and Donde Estan Los Ladrones. The energy of each song was amped by a variety of high tech effects. Film cameras, pyrotechnics, lighted floor tiles and an oversized wall screen displaying empowering messages and artsy love and war videos added just the right amount of flair.
We loved ever pulse-quickening minute of it.
But what we had to learn to love was her homage to American rock n' roll. At one point she put a puzzled look on her admirers' faces when she broke into Aerosmith's Dude Looks Like A Lady. Even with her trademark scratchy screams and rocker grooves, the tune seemed beneath her talents. She made up for it by adding a clever be-bop twist to the second half of her medley - AC/DC's Back In Black.
The blonde beauty also showed off her other goods. Her stylish fashion statement came via bare feet, and ensembles that ranged from elegant to risque. In between singing and dancing in borderline cleavage pants, she blew her harmonica, delivered a short but impressive drum solo and jammed on her guitar.
Ultimately, it came down to the dance moves as the crowd's perk of the night. Shakira's set contained more shakes and shimmies than her percussion player's maracas. Not to mention, there was more than one wife picking hubby's jaw off the floor when she slithered like a snake across the floor or gyrated around her mic stand.
We don't mind. It comes with the package and it worked in fulfilling her mission.