The all-pervasive snow even fell on Shakira’s concert last night, albeit in paper form. The rest of the time, the Colombian superstar delivered a sweltering performance that could have thawed Heathrow.
Having performed her first public bellydance at the age of four, Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll offered a masterclass in hip-waggling, twisting and weaving her superlative torso like a Bonfire Night sparkler. Gimmicks were minimal – a closing confetti shower, a giant plastic face, and two underused dancers who hopefully weren’t getting paid by the song. The big screens preferred lingering on the star to broadcasting computer graphics, and rightly so. The way she moved, all 4’11” of her, was a magnificent special effect in itself.
She first emerged floating through the rear of the crowd in an elaborate pink gown, which was soon ripped off to reveal a miniscule netted top and spray-on trousers – all the better for writhing in.
There was little musical compromise from the woman who had sold millions of records before she ever sang in English. A large proportion of her set was drawn from her Spanish language albums. While those waving Colombian flags in the audience will have been especially thrilled, the rest of us can’t fail to have noticed that she didn’t save all her best tunes for the English world. Te Dejo Madrid boasted a mighty riff resembling The Kinks while Ciega, Sordomunda’s exuberant chorus was well worth a failed attempt to sing along.
She blew capably into a harmonica, played a guitar almost as big as her on Inevitable, and sneaked unlikely covers of EMF and Metallica into a wide-ranging set. Her singing voice is a cataclysmic yodel that is probably the one thing preventing her from becoming even more popular. Here its drama sounded well suited to the frantic pace of Loca (“I’m crazy but you like it”) and the howling electropop of She Wolf.
The children who appeared for the final song, her World Cup anthem Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), were a belated reminder of her other talents. She has her own charity building schools, is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and addressed the Oxford Union last year on education. Those who don’t care for her music might try her recently published children’s book, Dora the Explorer’s World School Day Adventure.
Tonight, though, was simply for dancing. Shakira may have been the best mover, but she was far from alone.