Shakira Shakes Her Way to Victory on ‘El Dorado’ Tour

Shakira Shakes Her Way to Victory on ‘El Dorado’ Tour

The Latin superstar impressed in Viva Las Vegas on her first tour in nearly eight years—one that almost didn't happen.

The Latin superstar impressed in Viva Las Vegas on her first tour in nearly eight years—one that almost didn't happen.

Text: Jake Viswanath

The past few years haven’t been the easiest for Shakira—or her fans. Several factors, including the birth of her two children and a judging stint on The Voice, prevented her from going on tour even as she was still releasing music (2014’s self-titled album). A bout of writer’s block left the star wondering if she could continue recording at all. And as she put out El Dorado, a Grammy-winning knockout album of renewed Latin trap and reggaeton sounds, and geared up to finally hit the road, a major hemorrhage on her vocal cords forced her to postpone the entire European and North American runs of her tour last fall.

It’s easy to see why, in Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend, Shakira’s mere presence on stage felt like a triumph, even amongst a slew of big-name entertainers playing just blocks from her. Skipping onto center stage to the jubilant sounds of her 1995 dance hit “Estoy Aquí”, her joy was immediately palpable, and the audience’s even more so, their energy reaching screaming Belieber-levels at certain points. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment after many obstacles,” she remarked soon after kick-off. “Thank you for being there for me, in the good times, in the bad times, and for giving me the joy to sing for you one more time.”

A memory video of childhood photos, iconic looks, and career moments that preceded her entrance subtly set the tone: this show was all about Shakira. She carried the show with only her extensive backing band, and given her guitar, drum, and keyboard solos, she may as well have gone without them too. Collaborators like Maluma and Rihanna were creatively embedded into the background visuals without taking any shine, and her pianist doubled as duet partner when needed, such as on the infectious “La Tortura”, when she shimmed down the catwalk as he followed her every move.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

Rather thrillingly, there was not another dancer to be found. Instead of having them act as guards during disco-infused jam “She Wolf”, she unchained herself and worked the crowd until they were (literally) howling. And rather than assemble an army of African-style dancers for the one-two punch dance party of “La La La (Brazil 2014)” and “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)”, she multiplied herself on the big screen and let her own hips do all the work, as they also did for the exuberant “Hips Don’t Lie”, of course.

Given that the El Dorado Tour was her first in nearly eight years, the singular focus on the superstar was almost necessary for her fans, and moments where she focused on connecting with them directly were the show’s finest. It was an especially smart move to incorporate them into the new tracks, singing the sentimental ballad “Toneladas” while surrounded by fans on a satellite stage and teaching them how to sing the hook on her latest hit “Chantaje” (they already knew it). Of course, pure nostalgia won the crowd over most, especially with renditions of 1998 Latin smash “Inevitable” and a campfire-style “Antología” making them sway in unison.

The emphasis on connection and one-woman spectacle came together at the show’s halfway point, a dramatic and sensual version of her breakout English hit “Whenever, Wherever” that switched between dedicated sing-alongs and fiery belly-dancing breaks, proving that she can move and flex better than most millennials (me included). It was a culmination of how Shakira has weathered her own storms: through timeless tunes, an earnest devotion to fans, and the skill to command a stage solo, one that takes decades to master. And in that, she has emerged a winner once again.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation
Credits: IMAGES VIA GETTY FOR LIVE NATION

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