The first song Shakira played on Saturday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose
was “Estoy Aquí,” which translates to “I’m Here.”
Boy, was she ever.
More importantly, from the look of things, it appears that she’s here to stay.
The 29-year-old Colombian-born vocalist opened her two-night stand at the
venue, which included a show Monday night, with a fiery performance that
proved she has what it takes to make it for the long haul.
Shakira, as most of you probably know, is currently the hottest property in
the crossover market. A huge star in the Latin pop world since the mid-’90s,
the woman born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll now finds herself in the same
league as Madonna, Britney Spears and Shania Twain in the United States. Her
collaboration with Wyclef Jean, “Hips Don’t Lie,” is the jam of the summer,
and her Oral Fixation Tour is doing banner business across the country.
The thing about Latin-pop crossover artists, however, is that their stars
often quickly fade after the initial buzz wears thin. The crossover success
might last for one, maybe two, catchy singles, but then it’s gone — see Ricky
Martin for one recent example.
That’s not likely to happen with Shakira. She simply has too much going for
One of those things, unfortunately, is not her opening act. The choice of Jean
as the opener on this tour makes sense — it makes it possible for the Fugees
singer to join Shakira at the end of her set on “Hips Don’t Lie.”
But it also means that the crowd has to listen to a full set by Jean, who
remains one of the most infuriatingly uneven live performers in the business.
When he is focused on stage, which is rare, the 33-year-old Haitian-born
rapper can really fire up an audience. At the HP Pavilion, however, Jean
delivered a highly scattered show that was reminiscent of the one he performed
on Election Night 2000 at the San Jose State Event Center. (It was so bad that
probably even the Democrats in the house would have rather been home watching
The one true highlight of Jean’s otherwise ho-hum set was his version of Bob
Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” which can be found on the Fugees’ “The Score.” It
was a much better rendition than the one performed in the same venue only six
nights earlier by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
Things improved dramatically once Shakira took the stage and hit the crowd
with “Estoy Aquí.”
“Here’s the deal,” the vocalist told the audience early in the concert. “I am
going to be singing and dancing and doing the required stuff. But I need you
to do one thing for me — I need you to have fun.”
The capacity crowd certainly lived up to its end. The fans boogied, waved
banners and Colombian flags, sang along to both Spanish and English language
songs, and, in general, acted as if Carnival was in full swing.
Shakira sounded strong and showed far more vocal range than one hears from her
on her studio records as she strutted her way through the first
English-language song of the night, “Don’t Bother,” a lightweight rocker from
last year’s blockbuster “Oral Fixation, Vol. 2.”
The celeb, as we know from watching the videos, can dance as well as she sings
— perhaps even better. She mixed modern moves, old-school shakes like “The
Robot” and the belly-dancing techniques she first learned as a child as she
waltzed through such feet-friendly numbers as “La Tortua.”
Although her stats place her in true divadom, and thus she’s allowed to use
all the tricks of the trade, Shakira impressively used a minimal number of
bells and whistles during her show. She didn’t rely on video segments, fancy
light shows or many big production numbers. She didn’t writhe suggestively in
a bathtub, a la Britney Spears on the Onyx Hotel Tour, or affix herself to a
cross, like Madonna in her Confessions Tour.
Instead, she just relied on her talent to get her through the night, and it
was more than enough.
Appearing first in a simple black T-shirt and baggy pants, Shakira kept the
focus on the music throughout the show. She did dust off that old stage trick
of going unplugged on “Antologia,” and there was that elaborate red costume
with the flowing sleeves that she wore for “Fijación Oral, Vol. 1” — track
“No.” In neither case did the theatrics distract from the crowd’s ability to
connect with the music.
She closed her main set with a tremendous version of the infectious “Whenever,
Wherever,” the “Laundry Service” tune that made her a crossover star in 2001.
She returned for two encore segments, eventually ending her show by bringing
out Jean for an uproarious duet on “Hips Don’t Lie.”