CEDARS, LEBANON: Across an audience of 1,200 fans, Shakira’s signature song “Hips Don't Lie” kicked off a dance celebration at her opening night concert where the venue was a shaking maelstrom of happy feet as the audience readied for a blissful night of performance by the Columbian songbird.
The mesmerizing stage and light design took the audience on a journey, into a realm of music and delight.
As soon as Shakira appeared on stage to say “Marhaba Libnen”, Arabic for “Good evening Lebanon”, the crowd erupted in jubilation.
Shakira perfomed most of her songs as playback, except for a song and part of another one which she sang live on stage, yet she is extremely excused to do so, one might think, just by looking at her magical energy outpouring under Cedar’s stars. The outstanding singer did not stop singing from 9:30 pm, when the concert started, until around an hour and a half after that.
A daughter of the Lebanese diaspora –with a Lebanese father and Columbian mother - Shakira, who is known for her unique dance moves mixing oriental with the western style dance movements, has proven to be and still proves, that she is the queen of stage.
Yet the time she spent singing was not enough compared to the huge amounts of money people paid for tickets to watch her, a number of people told Annahar.
“117,000 LBP is not a small amount of money for every member of my family to watch a singer we love,” a woman riding the bus told Annahar. She also complained about waiting for around three hours on the way in traffic due to “lack of organization.”
Her son, Mark, however, was extremely happy with the performance, “I haven’t seen such a performance since I returned to Lebanon from the states,” he said, before agreeing with his mum that “an hour and a half of singing and dancing is not enough compared to what we had to do to watch her."
Prior to her last two songs, a video was shown on the majestic cedar tree shaped screens, revealing the suffering in many parts of the world, mainly children who face difficulties and obstacles to go to school every day. As soon as the video ended, Shakira and another singer performed “No fighting no fighting…” and continued dancing gracefully.
The glittery clothes Shakira wore, contrasting with confetti and glitter being sprinkled and poured on the audience every now and then made it even a greater show, and so did her belly dancing clothes.
In the standing area, unfortunately, several people including security personnel working at the festival lit their cigarettes and ignored people who said they have health problems at the extremely crowded event.
Amid the joy spreading in between laser lighting, fireworks, and Shakira’s unique western-oriental dance moves, a large number of attendees expressed their anger over the disorganization from various aspects.
The entrance to the concert revealed some disorganization, especially when it comes to media personnel not being able to enter despite showing their passes.
Another hitch worth mentioning is the lack of space in the standing section which does not allow people to move or dance freely.
Badawi Tawk, a Lebanese immigrant who was visiting his hometown Bsharre for the summer, said that “the festival committee should be aware of all this mess, so that they show a better image about Bsharre, Cedars, and most importantly Lebanon."
Most of people reached their homes at 4:00 am, although the concert finished at 11:30 pm, with many concertgoers venting their frustrations with the chaotic transport, either the bus or the time it took to get out with their cars.
“1.3 million dollars is such a huge amount of money for a singer who barely sang a few songs,” said one of the young men organizing the valet parking. “We might not even get our LBP 50,000 today, but what will happen to the people who paid to have fun but instead suffered?” he asked.
Locals in Bsharre and visitors from all Lebanese regions agree that tourism needs to recover again, but “it should be done right."
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