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VIVA COLOMBIA! (Web Exclusive)
Shakira's Tour Of The Mongoose
By Alejandra Hanabergh

Colombian rock star Shakira has crossed the border and is ready for her first U.S. English speaking tour. After several months of TV appearances, radio interviews, and award show performances, "Shaki", as her loyal fans have nicknamed, her will show her old and new fans what she is all about.

On Nov. 2, I saw first hand what this young rock star has to show the world at a free, private dress rehearsal concert for 3,000 family members, close friends, and press. Her Tour of the Mongoose is the one concert of the year you do not want to miss!

The stage was set and the curtain drop was designed with that of a mongoose and cobra head to head about to engage in a battle of the fittest. While the band began to warm up the crowd, the curtain was pulled aside as smoke began to fill the arena. On the screen behind the stage there was a short black and white film of what seemed to be something out of the Discovery channel: A mongoose and a cobra engaged in a battle as the words To be continued appeared on the bottom as the scene faded out.

Shakira emerged from the belly of a 30-foot cobra wearing black leather pants, a black crop top, and a sheer netted black sequence coat. With her blonde hair now cut a bit shorter and her eyes focused on the crowd in front of her, you could hear whistles and clapping encouraging her to perform. Screams of "I love you Shakira!" and "Viva Colombia!" could be heard from all directions. The energy in the room grew to impatience and the crowd chanted "Shakira! Shakira! Shakira!"

She began the set with Ciega, Sordomuno (Blind, deaf-mute) one of the songs off her junior album Donde Estan Los Ladrones and instantly you could feel the energy projected by this sensational Latina. Running, jumping, moving her hips and body, Shakira knows how to work the stage. She moved from one side to another getting as close to her fans as she possibly could and giving them more of a performance then they would have graciously paid for. After a few more songs she greeted the audience and, because there is much speculation about the tour's title, she said, "Before I go on, I just wanted to make it clear that I am not the mongoose or the snake."

So what's the meaning behind this reference? That's something you will have to figure out by going to see the show on Dec. 2 at the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami.

Promoting and supporting her English debut album Laundry Service, Shakira will be performing songs such as Objection, Underneath Your Clothes, Poem to a Horse, Ready For The Good Times, and the number one hit which put her in every radio or TV across the U.S., Whenever, Wherever along with many others and a couple of surprise remakes from bands such as AC/DC and Aerosmith.

Although this tour is meant to introduce the Colombian rock star to the U.S., old fans shouldn't be disappointed as the props and outfits changed, so did the music. Shakira's set list included songs off her debut album Pies descalzos, such as Estoy Aqui, which she performed similar to the MTV Unplugged appearance, and a duo of Un Poco de Amor with keyboard player Lester Mendez adding that reggae feeling. She also sang a few songs from her junior album, Donde Estan Los Ladrones, such as Inevitable, Que Vuelvas and Ojos Asi, which allowed us to get a look at her Lebanese background and belly dancing.

One of these songs sent chills down my spine. Octavo Dia, the Eighth Day, a song she wrote for her beloved country Colombia, and the struggle of war within its borders. The moving song describes how, on the eighth day, God decided to take the day off after creating the world, comes back to find his creation a disaster. Towards the end of the show, with just a spotlight on her, Shakira stood in center stage and said, "Pop stars shouldn't stick their noses into politics...I know. But this is not about politics or politicians, this is above that. This is about love."

The spotlight faded out and the lights came up on the band who were wearing masks of our world leaders as the jumbo screen behind them showed Saddam Heusein and President Bush playing a game of chess.

This part of the show left tears in the eyes of the people around me and made me feel as though we need to make change in the way we view life. If just one artist can make you see the truth of such situations, then they have gone far out of their way to open those doors. Shakira has definitely made that trip to my mind, body soul within a matter of five minutes.

Shakira is not just a singer or performer. She also writes her own lyrics, melodies and treatments for the songs. She believes in writing from deep within her soul. By the age 15 this young girl was capturing people with her distinctive voice and music. Now 23, she is determined to cast a spell on the U.S.

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