Shakira at the American Airlines Arena, September 27

Categories: Last Night
Shakira1.jpg
Christina Mendenhall
View photos of Shakira at American Airlines Arena here.

Shakira
American Airlines Arena
Monday, September 27, 2009


Better Than: Driving to Palm Beach for a show, or Palm Beach in general.

I'd be lying if I told you I'm familiar with the Shakira brand. Sure, I had heard some of her music -- it was damn near unavoidable this summer with that "Waka, Waka" World Cup song -- but for some reason, Shakira's didn't make my list of must-see live artists of 2010. Or ever, really.

Concerts I normally go to don't happen at big arenas, but rather small bars and venues, and people there tend to look relatively grimy or obnoxiously hip -- the complete opposite of a Shakira show. I had no idea the crowd sent a memo regarding the agreed upon dress code. (If you own stock in Dolphin Mall, you're paying your bills this month.) Eighty-percent of the women in attendance looked like Shakira in one way or another -- shapelier but dangerously sexy.

Shakira2.jpg
Christina Mendenhall

As the American Airlines Arena filled up, so did my empty cup of Jack Daniels. By 8:30 p.m., the opening act (which I missed by ten minutes) was off the stage and the crowd started chanting, "Sha-ki-ra, Sha-kir-ra," waving Colombian flags and dancing to pre-recorded music. At 8:45, with the AAA near its concert capacity, a pretty solid wave broke out around the arena. Fifteen minutes later and there was still no sign of the sultry, frog-voiced gypsy woman, but the crowd hardly noticed.

Another dose of Jack and another quarter-hour later, a strikingly beautiful woman emerged from the tunnel in a pink dress. She opened with "Pienso en ti," singing the sweet ballad as she cut through the crowd, kissing fans and posing for pictures. She made her way up to the stage, and boom, her dress was off before you even knew it. She is as sexy in person as she is on television, maybe sexier when you realize there's not an ounce of fat on this girl, just toned, tanned muscle.

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Christina Mendenhall

After the first song, she addressed the audience, "Como esta mi gente," she yelled. "I'm here to please you. Tonight, I'm all yours." The crowd shrieked, the decibel level dangerously loud.

Shakira sang with a backing track for most of her songs, but on occasion this Colombian sensation trusted her unique voice to wow the audience. She obviously loves her fans, even bringing some girls on stage to gyrate next to her and tease the men in the audience. It was awkward, and a girl young enough to be my daughter moved "left, right, and around" with Shakira.

Arguably the most interesting part of her show came seven songs deep. Joined at the edge of the catwalk extending from the main stage by three musicians, Shakira covered Metallica's "Nothing Else Matter" accompanied by a mandolin, Spanish guitar, and single drum.

Shakira4.jpg
Christina Mendenhall

I realized, at that point, Shakira is more than a pretty face and a smoking body. She's a performer and passionate about music of all kinds. But unfortunately, she depends on her sexuality to the point it's almost sad. She's talented, with or without her looks, there's no denying it.

A three-song encore wrapped with that soccer song, "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)." The night was one hell of an experience. And no doubt, Shakira represents more to her fans than just dance music. For so many South Americans, and Colombians particularly, last night was more a piece of home than a concert.

I left humming Shakira tracks, but I'll blame that on the booze.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I went in pessimistically, thinking this was going to be the worst two hours of my life, but it wasn't. It was memorable and any excuse to party with hot Colombians, I'm in.

The Crowd: Fake tans, fake tits, and big asses. A lot of these same women were also with their children.

Overhead in the Crowd: Guy: "No lie, this is first show I've ever been to where there's no marijuana smoking. Jesus Christ."

Partial Set List:
-"Pienso en Ti"
-"Sit te vas"
-"Wherever, Whenever/Unbelievable" (cover)
-"Inevitable"
-"Nothing else matter" (cover)
-"Underneath your clothes"
-"La tortura"
-"Gypsy"
-"Gordita"
-"Loca"
-"Ojos Asi"
-"Hips don't lie"
-"Waka Waka"

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