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Concert Reviews
(Palace of Auburn Hills, MI – November 22nd, 2002)

As the predominantly-young crowd slowly filtered into the half-full arena; it’s entire upper back rows blocked off with a huge black protective cloth and indeed Shakira’s own stage set-up also devouring a solid third of the possibly seating, it was quite noticeable that tonight’s show never had any illusions of being anything close to a sell-out. Whether it be the extraordinarily-priced tickets ($65) or the amazingly-priced merchandise (small ‘Shakira’ panties - $30), or just that a singer with only three relatively-hit singles to her name was trying to fill out 13,000 seats on a cold, wet night in Michigan, as the clock struck 8.30pm the empty seats were quite an overpowering sight.

Then, as the Guns ‘n’ Roses tune ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ came blaring out of the mass of speakers, followed by the removal of the house lights, suddenly some belly-dancing music could be heard and it’s showtime ! The huge bright red protecting curtain that wraps around the entire stage has not got two bright white spots embedded through it revealing two guitarists earning their money. Fake thunder and lightening and the toll of bells enter the fray, before the curtains are slowly drawn back to reveal a shrouded, black-caped figure hidden under the neck of a massive golden Cobra amongst the stage smoke.

To the snake-charming, belly-dancing notes, the Cobra releases upwards and reveals a mid-rift shaking, barefooted, black bra and leather panted Shakira in all her sexy glory. Sliding to her mic, she immediately breaks into ’Eyes Like Yours (Ojos Asi)’ and as the screens behind her throw up fake flames of fire follows it up with a guitar strapped around her for ’Fool’. As we head through the next few songs this now full-on Vegas-style performance truly encapsulated all that and more with the stage pyros being followed by two rousing cover versions of both Aerosmith’s ’Dude Looks Like A Lady’ and AD/DCs ’Back In Black’ - during which the only thing missing from the latter was a damn stripper’s dancing pole !

For a few seconds the stage goes completely dark save for a couple of white spots that silhouette her frame. She points, quietly speaks to the roaring crowd and then suddenly the overhead lights bathe her in everything from deep blue, to flowing green, to rich red. Shakira is always knowledgeable of where her fans are and how to get to them which is why she continually races up and down the spread ‘arms’ of the stage to sing to her younger fans based to the sides of the stage. Never stopping from shaking her booty, her stomach, her ... well, bloody everything to be perfectly honest with you, Shakira is definitely an all-round entertainer ! Again a guitar song is brought to the fore, her every movement now illuminated ala Michael Jackson by colored squares that light under her every step ! Taking a quick breather she’s back up on stage and drumming for the opening of ’Rules’, whilst the cameras show her on the big screens through black and white, grainy film ! Bringing the show down a level, she comes front stage to sing the slow ’Que Me Quedes Tu’ - complete with an incredibly-held last note !

Right about now she introduces ’Underneath Your Clothes’ as, ”I once wrote a song, but it’s not mine anymore. Now it belongs to you” and proceeds to have everyone up, bodies swaying, lighters lit. Before the end of the song she’s been pacing the stage again, writhing on the floor and moaning into the mic like some demonically-possessed beast ! A Jimi Hendrix quote is transposed on the black backdrop before the sight of two men wearing world leader masks (ala ‘Spitting Image’) take each other on in an exaggerated game of Chess - filmed in black and white once more. It’s a political song, of which she is highly apologetic about forcing down our throats, adding that she would ”… rather sing about love” and noting that most leaders were ”… lacking love” and why was it ”… so difficult to love somebody anyway ?” You tell ‘em girlfriend !

As the dove of peace finally leaves the back screen, Shakira comes out for her final turn wearing red, sequined pants, crop-top and jazzy flat cap and breaks into a rousing rendition of ’Ready For The Good Times’ before unleashing a massive disco ball from the arenas ceiling. With the music still beating away, colorful lights from all over hit the spinning ball and suddenly the entire arena was transformed into the largest roller disco on earth ! After a quick band introduction, not to mentioned the first part of another black and white-shot back drop film featuring a battle between a Mongoose and a Cobra, Shakira again writhes on the floor to ’I’ll Breathe Again’ before standing behind a piano – the words ‘Life Is ….. A Song, Sing It’ behind her - for a tame intro of yet another slow Latin-influenced song. ’Objection (Tango)’ comes next, but seems to lack the power of the album version, but is followed by an incredible belly-dancing, rump shaking finale that includes some loud-ass pyro explosions and her racing across the stage to entertain every last one of her gathering before she finally waves goodnight !

For her expected encore, the diminutive Latin-lovely suddenly – and surprisingly for the first time tonight – shows her quirky side by being brought up through that very same hole in the stage ……. wearing a damn lit candelabra on her head ! Still managing to belly-dance her ass off though, before placing it on the floor and breaking into an Egyptian-remix of her hit song, ’Whenever, Wherever.’ Midway through she gets the crowd vocally involved before stepping out into a huge mechanical arm that takes her clear above them all for a couple of extended choruses. Once back on stage, the guitars hit a high, the pyros go off and four huge shredded-paper cannons fire off covering the entire arena in hundreds of thousands of pieces of white paper ! It truly looked as if it was snowing, the shredded confetti providing one of the most extraordinary finishes to a show this year. Closing with arms full of roses from her adoring fans and a deservedly huge smile in her face, she screams out ”Thanks Detroit. This is for you” and taking three large steps across the stage jumps into the air and right through a trap door in the stage floor and is gone in a flash of final pyro !

As the stage smoke puffs its last puffs, the back drop illuminates for the last time and the second part of the Mongoose vs. the Cobra battle is shown. Two minutes later, as both have danced around each other, the Cobra strikes and takes the Mongoose down leaving the words ‘Bite The Neck of Hatred’ on the screen for all to leave with.

Photos and Review by Russell A. Trunk