Shakira's powerful, and that's no lie

"We're going to make a little arrangement," said Colombian pop singer Shakira early in her sold-out Thursday evening show at Madison Square Garden. "I'm going to be up here singing and dancing and playing and doing all the required stuff. What I want you to do is have fun." It seemed like a bargain, but Shakira comported herself with such vigor and joy and enthusiasm over the course of the hour-and-forty-five-minute show that it was often hard to tell just who had gotten the better part of the deal.

This is a testament to Shakira's charisma and her long history as a performer. Though she's been making records since the early '90s, it was her 2001 English-language debut, "Laundry Service," that catapulted her into super-stardom. A giddy, raucous mash-up of rock, pop, salsa and reggaeton, the album had an impish curiosity and a willingness to push against genre boundaries until they start to give. If her latest album, "Oral Fixation Vol. 2," isn't quite as fun, it's only because it attempts less, skewing more toward Western rock and pop and offering less in the way of experimentation. So much the better then that Shakira tread lightly over the new material in favor of a set that showcased both the breadth of her catalog and her charisma and agility as a frontwoman. As befitting an international pop star, roughly half of Thursday's show was sung in Spanish, with the strongest material coming from her earliest records. "Inevitable" built slowly to a stormy conclusion, and "Ciega Sordomuda" was rousing and anthem-like, Shakira cheerfully and tirelessly galloping across the stage.

For someone who has lately gained a degree of notoriety for her ability to swivel, Thursday's show was surprisingly light on dancing.

Shakira's movements were mostly slow and controlled, and she opted for an occasional sweep of the leg or arching of the back while restricting more elaborate choreography to two brief, concentrated set pieces. She seemed far more at ease playing the frontwoman, donning a guitar for "Don't Bother" and inviting Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz to join her seven-piece band for a snarling rendition of "La Tortura."

Shakira's current hit came last, as current hits often do. A duet with Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, "Hips Don't Lie," is without question the year's most ubiquitous song, dominating airwaves for the better part of the summer. The song itself has a curious history: It began as a Jean contribution to the soundtrack for the blink-and-you'll-miss-it 2004 sequel to "Dirty Dancing" before being hastily retooled as a Shakira showcase. Watching the pair perform it on Thursday, in the middle of a troupe of belly dancers and amid a shower of multicolored confetti, it was surprisingly easy to spot the surgery.

Shakira is the tempest at the center of her own songs, but in "Hips" she's reduced to an afterthought, a squiggle of vocal and a clunky chorus hook. After nearly two hours of strength and power, gyrating and cooing and playing kittenish foil to Jean seemed painfully beneath her. Shakira. Terrifically tempestuous. With Wyclef Jean. Seen Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Taken from newsday


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