On-screen flashed a black-and-white photo of a young girl with dark-colored hair and a winning smile. Onstage stood golden-locked megastar Shakira, still with that same grin, but this time in bright color and dynamic motion.
The Colombian-born songstress reminded the crowd at Capital One Arena on Saturday night that her musical life span stretched decades from when she started as a teen artist. Her catalogue includes hits in English and Spanish, covering folk-inspired rock, electro-fueled pop and hip-shaking reggaeton.
The late writer Gabriel García Márquez, a friend of the singer, once described Shakira’s vocals as having “a natural range that will survive her excesses.”
And after health issues with her vocal cords last year pushed back the start of her world tour in support of her latest album, “El Dorado,” Shakira’s resonating voice rebounded, her signature vibrato shining through the blaze of pyrotechnics and flurry of confetti and gold sparkles.
Shakira’s music career wasn’t always gilded: After securing a record deal at age 13, she didn’t reach commercial success until the release of the spirited “Pies Descalzos,” going on to dominate the late ’90s with lyrical rock sensibilities that brought comparisons to prolific singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.
Known to be deftly poetic in her native Spanish, Shakira learned English and delivered the 2001 crossover album “Laundry Service,” spawning hits such as the panpipe-starring “Whenever, Wherever” and tender slow jam “Underneath Your Clothes.” She then solidified her international diva status in 2006 with the body-rolling confession about her honest hips.
Now, at 41, Shakira continues to mesmerize with fluid gyrations and arena-filling vocals. Opening with an exuberant medley of early Spanish-language hits “Estoy Aquí” and “Dónde Estás Corazón,” she revealed her tenacious vocals as the true anchor of her staying power.
She then threw her mane back and shimmied to more recent songs, including the sensuous hit “Chantaje,” which featured rising Colombian reggaeton singer Maluma in recording, and the adoring pop portrait “Amarillo,” for which she picked up an acoustic guitar to match her effusive crooning.
Though she saved megahit “Hips Don’t Lie” as an encore, it was the least-memorable performance and, after 20-odd songs, her voice was ready to call it a night.
Still, rather than being distractions, the bright lights, jumbled video interludes, outfit changes and indoor fireworks that littered her performance served as an underline for her magnetic charisma and indelible vocals, proving that whatever the language, Shakira will enthrall and inspire.