I have to admit that when I heard about Shakira's new DVD/CD release, "Oral Fixation Tour," (Epic), I wondered what the point was. After all, the original album was released more than two years ago, and memories of her "Hips Don't Lie" duet with Wyclef Jean have been eclipsed by the sordid pop spectacle of "A Shot of Love With Tila Tequila."
But watching this beautifully shot, sonically spectacular live performance is a great way of restoring your faith in the sprawling pop concert. No one in the world seems to be having more fun than Shakira. She prances around barefoot like a child playing to her parents in her living room, wielding a microphone like a cheerleader's baton, blowing on a harmonica as if she were Bob Dylan, jamming with her shimmering blue guitar like Jimmy Page.
When Alejandro Sanz hits the stage for their duet, "La Tortura," she rolls out the hip-and-torso gyrations that transcend language and spread her fame throughout the known universe. Sanz's gruff exhortations have never sounded better and it seems they've played it together so much they should briefly form a band and record an album's worth of material.
Following "La Tortura," some dancers come out to perform a brief ballet interlude set to Erik Satie's "Trois Gymnopedies," an indication of why Shakira's grand idea of pop still works - unlike Madonna, she never gave up on Modernism. Shrouded in amber light, she emerges in a flowing red dress to perform "No," a song about letting a deep love go at the ripe old age of 26. The song climaxes and she extends her dress so wide it engulfs her, as if she were a rose swallowing itself.
"Oral Fixation Tour" also features a couple of extras, most notably the mini-documentaries "Around the World in 397 Days" and "Barefoot." The former is a better-than-average tour diary, but the latter is unexpectedly moving. A kind of public service announcement for her Pies Descalzos (Barefoot) Foundation, it narrates Shakira's involvement in constructing a school for impoverished children near her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia.
"Colombia has the second-highest amount of refugee displacement in the world, behind Sudan," she says, in the video, and continues to rattle off difficult truths. She is shown rehearsing with Barranquilla's salsa legend Joe Arroyo, singing along in a version of "No Le Pege a la Negra" (Don't Hit My Black Woman). This time you wonder when she's going to start a salsa band.
Then of course, there is that version of "Hips Don't Lie." Closeups of teenage girls and couples mouthing the lyrics give way to Wyclef in a red sport jacket and a straw fedora. Nine dancers in saris sway behind Shakira, creating the illusion she has the many arms of the Hindu goddess Shiva. Reggaeton rhythms flow neatly into cumbia rhythms and red and white confetti fills the screen. What at first seemed like repetition had me calling for an encore.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.