Live review: Shakira at MSG

A fixture on the Latin-pop scene since the mid-'90s, Shakira achieved mainstream attention only when she released her crossover debut, Laundry Service, in 2001. But from the fervent bilingual screams at last night's sold-out Madison Square Garden performance, you'd think she'd been singing in English since Day One.

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As the house lights dimmed, the crowd erupted—all eyes fixed on the unassuming stage until one steady spotlight called attention to the back of the auditorium's main floor. From beneath a bright-pink cloak came the opening strains of "Pienso en Ti," a stripped-down single from the singer's Spanish-language breakout, Pies Descalzos. After slowly winding her way toward the stage, Shakira picked up the energy level as she launched into "Why Wait" (from She Wolf) and "Te Dejo Madrid" (from Laundry Service) back-to-back. Kicking off the show with a Billboard chart-topper like "Hips Don't Lie" would've been a safer bet, but her selections proved that the petite powerhouse is still conscious of her longtime supporters.

Throughout the remainder of her well-paced, two-hour-long set, Shakira balanced older favorites, such as the Middle Eastern--and-Andean-tinged "Ojos As," with newer singles, including reggaetn-heavy "Gordita" and "Sale El Sol," the title track from her forthcoming dual-language album, Sale el Sol/The Sun Comes Out (due October 19). The night's best moments, though, came from two unconventional mash-ups—"Whenever, Wherever" crossed with EMF's one-hit wonder, "Unbelievable," and a haunting cover of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" that segued into "Despedida"—both of which proved her to be a dexterous artist who packs a lot of punch (and one hell of a voice) into a tiny frame.—Sarah Bruning

Set list:
Pienso en Ti
Why Wait
Te Dejo
Si Te Vas
Whenever Wherever (with hints of Unbelievable)
Nothing Else Matters/Despedida
Ciega Sordomuda
Underneath Your Clothes
Sale el Sol
Las de la Intuicion
She Wolf
Ojos Asi

Antes de las Seis
Hips Don't Lie
Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)