Music Article

Summer's Tours de Force

The best music tours of the season -- We compare Mariah, Shakira, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers

The best music tours of the season

MARIAH CAREY
Aug. 23, 2006
Madison Square Garden, NYC

THE EVENT: On this hometown stop of her three-month Adventures of Mimi tour across the U.S., Canada, Tunisia, Japan, and Hong Kong, the singer performed the hits from her 2005 comeback album, The Emancipation of Mimi, along with 10 of her 17 No. 1 classics.

COST OF TICKET: $19.50-$154.50

OPENING ACT: Dancehall star Sean Paul

GUESTS: Da Brat, Jay-Z, Diddy, Jadakiss and Styles P from the Lox, Trey Lorenz, and DJ Clue.

ONSTAGE BANTER: When Rev. Clarence Keaton from Brooklyn's True Worship Church failed to join his gospel choir on stage for a rendition of ''Fly Like a Bird,'' Carey stopped the show — midsong — and threw a hissy fit: ''Where's my pastor? I'm not trying to be a diva, but we went over this! This is not staged, FYI.''

SPECIAL EFFECTS: A blinking ''MIMI'' sign that descended during ''Shake It Off'' — apparently to distract from Carey's inability to do more than teeter on high heels while waving a hand in the air.

ENCORE: ''We Belong Together,'' followed by an explosion of fuchsia and purple butterfly-shaped confetti.

BOTTOM LINE: Carey's voice was consistently superb, but despite four costume changes, she failed to hit the right notes with her skimpy wardrobe. And her dancers' outdated choreography couldn't make up for her lack of showmanship. B-Margeaux Watson

SHAKIRA
Aug. 18, 2006
Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, Calif.

THE EVENT: The sixth night of a 30-city North American tour behind Oral Fixation Vol. 2... and, for that matter, Fijación Oral Vol. 1, since the multilingual queen hasn't hit the road since 2003.

COST OF TICKET: $19.50-$90.00

OPENING ACT: Wyclef Jean

GUESTS: Wyclef, of course. You didn't expect Shakira to sing ''Hips Don't Lie'' by herself.

ONSTAGE BANTER: Shakira wore a black top and baggy slacks for the earliest, rocking tunes. When she finally rolled up the shirt to reveal her steel midriff, she explained, ''Actually, this has a very serious purpose...and it's exactly what you imagine.'' Thus began the belly-dancing portion of the evening.

SPECIAL EFFECTS: What, the hip bounces, belly rolls, and shoulder shimmies weren't F/X enough? Unlike her 2003 tour, this one has minimalist staging; the only ''effect'' is a projection of a shadowy, imaginary orchestra during the bossa nova ''Obtener un Sí.''

ENCORE: ''I never really knew she could dance like that,'' sang Jean in ''Hips Don't Lie,'' leering at Shakira's bottom. Liar.

BOTTOM LINE: When Shakira's in Sheryl Crow mode, you could almost mistake her for the rockin' girl next door; then, in pelvic earthquake mode, she's Madonna with a thousand extra stomach muscles. Even her eyebrows are insanely charismatic. The concert made clear why this approachable goddess is one of the world's biggest stars. A-Chris Willman

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
Aug. 22, 2006
ipayOne Center, San Diego

THE EVENT: The release of their latest chart-topping album, Stadium Arcadium, didn't occasion an actual stadium tour, but the band is filling arenas, which is rare enough for anyone of the rock persuasion these days. Their San Diego stop was the eighth on a 37-city North American tour.

COST OF TICKET: $54.50 (all seats)

OPENING ACT: Aggro-prog-rockers the Mars Volta

GUESTS: None

ONSTAGE BANTER: Looking out at the vast auditorium, Anthony Kiedis exclaimed, ''Hello, San Diego! I feel like I've been swallowed by a whale's vagina.'' Explaining the slightly obscure reference, he added, ''That's an Anchorman thing. No offense.''

SPECIAL EFFECTS: None for this theatrics-shunning crew, unless you count the perpetually rubber-necked Flea himself, who appeared to have been skinny-dipping in watercolors with his fluorescent, skintight bodysuit.

ENCORE: Being spoiler-averse, we'd hate to give it away, give it away now.

BOTTOM LINE: The Red Hot Chili Peppers are too set in their explosive slap-bass ways to offer many musical surprises at this late date. But as the only major middle-aged rock band currently capable of drawing a mostly under-25 crowd, this indestructible power-trio-plus-vox must be — and is — doing something right. B+Chris Willman

Originally posted Sep 08, 2006 Published in issue #897 Sep 15, 2006 Order article reprints