Live review

Wembley Arena, London : 16.12.2002

Already an established diva in North and South America since 1998 with her Spanish language album Donde Estan Los Landrones? (Where Are The Thieves?), Shakira's bid to conquer the English market started in 2002 with Laundry Service, which has already reached sales of over ten million.
    Complete with stage props including a curtain featuring a giant sized illustration of a snake and mongoose, Shakira's Tour Of The Mongoose could easily have misled any member of the audience into thinking that they were about to watch a live musical of The Arabian Nights.

After a long warm up with Guns N' Roses' Welcome To The Jungle, the sultry Shakira appeared onstage with a huge model of a snake in the background and full-scale band - looking slightly out of place with their scruffy denim look when compared to the stunning Colombian pop starlet. The band and Shakira managed to instantly lift the audience from out of their seats and lead them (or at least those familiar with her Spanish songs) to sing along in Spanish. After a variety of Spanish tracks Shakira then switched to please the English speaking members of the audience by playing tracks from Laundry Service such as Fool.
    While performing, Shakira also displayed some dance moves that would give even Madonna a run for her money. These included the infamous snake-like hip/bottom wiggling, as well as twisting and turning as if she was reconstructing sequences from Jackie Chan's Drunken Master, but of course with a more graceful, feminine approach!

The message, "The surest way to happiness is to lose yourself in a cause greater than yourself" is displayed on the background screen as The One is played, followed by an ER-esque scene showing a rock star fighting for their life on a hospital bed and surviving. This then leads to Shakira and co. covering Aerosmith's Dude Looks Like A Lady, followed by AC/DC's Back In Black. As well as playing guitar on a few tracks, at one point Shakira emerged on stage with a drumkit of her own to perform Rules, and to prove even as an eye-candy pop star, there are no limits to her talents . . . after all she did produce the entirety of Laundry Service.
    As well as showing a film sequence featuring the Grim Reaper being a puppet-master to George Bush and Saddam Hussein, Shakira also spoke out, stating that, "love is greater than war." Later on, the message, "Life is a song, sing it" is displayed among similar mottos. The last song played before the encore was the current single Objection (Tango), which left little guessing as to which song will end the show.
    For the encore, the five-foot tall Colombian bombshell emerges back on stage balancing a chandelier with lit candles on her head. The breakthrough hit single Whenever/Wherever is then performed as Shakira is lifted above the audience with the help of a crane. As the show ends, the motto "Bite the neck of hatred" is displayed in the background.

If anyone had problems with any of the songs with badly written-in-English lyrics, such as "Lucky that my breasts are small and humble, so you don't confuse them with mountains", they were surely laid to rest tonight. Despite - or possibly because of - these lingual hiccups, the presence of the barefooted, part-Colombian, part-Lebanese singing sensation will surely stop the pop world from being boring, predictable and totally manufactured place.

:: Ben Lewis

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