SHAKIRA, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 12 June 2018

The night after Demi Lovato cancelled her O2 Arena show at the last minute due to injured vocal cords, Shakira arrived on the same stage to show her what’s hopefully in store.

The Colombian star, 41, faced a bleak musical future after a vocal haemorrhage caused her to postpone this tour. Seven months later she was back and in fine voice for her first London appearance since 2010. “Miracles do exist,” she told the packed crowd.

While she’s been away, hits have been scarce in this country. This was the only UK appearance of her world tour. It’s a shame we can’t seem to get to grips with her Spanish language material at a time when Latin music is booming. We’ve even missed out on Chantaje, a smooth tropical pop duet with her fellow Colombian, Maluma, which is now on a ludicrous 2.1 billion YouTube plays.

Perhaps she doesn’t quite fit our idea of what a pop star should be. With her headbanging curly mane, knuckle dusters and black outfit strategically ripped, she looked like an escapee from a hair metal band and played raucous electric guitar on her early song, Inevitable. A line from the lively Loca summed it up: “Crazy but you like it.”

She broke free from chains in a chest-thrusting dance during She Wolf, and wore an ostrich dress during Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), one of two timely World Cup songs in her arsenal along with La La La (Brazil 2014). Having had two sons with Spain and Barcelona player Gerard Pique, the family printed on her acoustic guitar, she’s clearly an expert.

Throughout, her hips swivelled hypnotically, a universal language of good times regardless of the comprehensibility of her lyrics. In what feels like a minor territory for her, it was still great to have a visit from a major star.

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