Friday Night: Shakira At Toyota Center

Shakira Toyota Center October 8, 2010

See photos of Shakira's performance in our slideshow.

From the moment Shakira took the stage at 9:30 p.m. Friday, she had Toyota Center under her spell. Sensual, confident, and brimming with energy, the Latin pop star electrified the capacity crowd for two hours.

With our Spanish limited to basics like "lechuga, por favor," our first mission of the night was to befriend a Spanish-speaking cutie who wouldn't mind playing the role of translator in exchange for a smile and a handshake.

Shakira opened her set with a soft Spanish number, presumably from her upcoming bilingual album, Sale el Sol (translations, por favor). At this point, we leaned over to inquire if the exceedingly friendly chica to our right spoke any Spanish. She did. Mission accomplished.

Shakira was all spiffed up in a pink dress at the early going. After the opening number, she dropped the dress to reveal her signature midriff-baring top and body-hugging leather pants, one of numerous wardrobe exhibits.

Each outfit was a testament to the star's ample body confidence. She has a perfectly toned belly and wants you to know it. Her leather pants were so tight, it's a wonder she could still move around in them. Her hair, a flowing stretch of blonde locks, danced around her face wildly. Just like her musical spirit.

"My only wish tonight is that you have the best time," she said. "So, have fun and remember that tonight I'm all yours." With a wry smile, she ripped through crowd favorite "Whenever, Wherever."

One thing you'll notice about Shakira is that she performs as much with her voice as she does with her body, crawling on the stage, sometimes motioning like a cat, truly untamed.

Later, she strapped on a red acoustic guitar and introduced her next song in Spanish. As our translator explained, Shakira had written the song in her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia, just the singer and her guitar on a beautiful night.

As it turned out, Shakira's set list favored her English tunes; heard through arena speakers, the characteristic lilt of her English accent was spellbinding.

At some point, she dimmed the stage lights, strolled out onstage barefoot and placed some flowers on the stage. It was bizarre, and someone somewhere was probably tweeting that Shakira is now part of the Illuminati.

Shakira really put her repertoire on display Friday night: Hip-rolling, harmonica and guitar skills, even leading a group of female fans in a belly-dance routine during "Whenever."

It wasn't always perfect - Aftermath nearly fell asleep during some of her ballads. When tepid club single "Mi Gordita" came on, the crowd used it as an excuse to run to the concession stands. Shakira ripped her top off to reveal a fleshtone sports bra, and the dudes cheered ecstatically. Well, that shook everyone out of their slumber.

After an hour and half of prancing around, Shakira bowed and made an unconvincing stage exit. With the lights off, she went backstage. Three minutes later, the lights came back on as Shakira returned for "Hips Don't Lie," aided by a poor man's Wyclef Jean (some chipper black dude in dreads). This time, Shakira had squeezed into a blue dress that resembled a huge sphere of cotton candy. She later ditched the awful gown for a feathered skirt.

More belly dancing.

The next song kicked off with clips of kids from various parts of Africa. This could only mean one thing: "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" was on its way. Bingo.

Interestingly, Shakira's most successful hit to date is also her least original composition. "Waka Waka" lifts its chorus nearly word for word from "Zamina," a popular makossa hit by a Cameroonian group that rocked Africa in the '80s and found its way to Colombian nightclubs at a time when Shakira was a little girl with pop aspirations.

Propelled by its selection as the official anthem of the 2010 World Cup, "Waka Waka" went on to give Shakira her fastest Hot 100 chart debut. It also became one of the most watched videos in YouTube history, notching several RIAA plaques along the way. The Cameroonian band, Golden Sounds, sued Sony for a piece of the pie and was later compensated.

Musical politics aside, though, "Waka Waka" is an event song - the type that unifies a culture. Its Afro-Colombian rhythms thump winningly. The largely Latino audience didn't even mind that Shakira opted for the English version. They jumped wildly and cheered loudly.

At the two-hour mark, a visibly exhausted Shakira expressed her admiration for the city and strutted off, panting.

Personal Bias: None

The Crowd: Teens and college kids dressed in their weekend best.

Overheard in the Crowd: "What the hell is Zumba?"

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