Beyoncé at Xcel Energy Center, 7/18/13

Beyoncé at Xcel Energy Center, 7/18/13
Photo by Robin Harper/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images

The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Thursday, July 18, 2013

There are moments when Beyoncé appears to be made out of money. It's a combination of her perfectly undulating hips and a note hit regally in her personal key signature -- and then it's often topped with a smile. Her pure smiles are akin to 20 newborn puppies, a dozen velvet red cupcakes, and 72 and sunny. When these gilded moments occur during a performance -- we all remember 14 straight minutes of them during her Super Bowl Halftime show -- it's priceless, like the Magna Carta or the Holy Grail.

The ex-Destiny's Child frontwoman can grasp her power to do this, of course. And during her St. Paul stop at Xcel Energy Center, it would be a night of waiting for these sparkling moments. Over the course of two hours, she rarely made us wait too long.

"Run the World (Girls)" was a literal high kick into the evening. With strobes, pyro, an all-female band, and her dancers in elaborate wire-frame dresses as visual accompaniment, Bey surged into the heavily choreographed show with excess energy. It was one of several songs early in the set dominated by rhythm, which amplified the importance of the drumline-style dancing. Melody would take its turn later on.

"I just want to give you all I have," she told us during "Flaws and All," and that's when she slipped into one of those aforementioned moments. It's a small percentage of the population who can be so thoroughly expressive with their eyes -- casting them downward for sympathy and then letting them flit from side to side in comedic fashion -- but she made sure that she didn't overuse them.

And, if there's anything to be frustrated about in a full-length Bey show it's that she did give us everything, in her way of course. It made for a lot of costume changes and broken momentum. Video montages and extended dance pieces hogged what felt like a quarter of the show. The audience was grateful every time she returned, but it always took a bit to get back into the concert after a lengthy clip on the big screen that played out like a perfume commercial. Of course some breaks in the action are always necessary for stadium shows, but everyone paid to see as much of Mrs. Carter in the flesh as possible.

Beyoncé at Xcel Energy Center, 7/18/13
Photo by Robin Harper/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images

The brilliance of Beyoncé when it comes to choosing her influences was played up effectively throughout the night, from the stark spotlighting recalling Michael Jackson during "If I Were a Boy" to the incorporation of Donna Summer's sensual powerhouse "Love to Love You Baby" into the intro for "Naughty Girl." The latter brought a line of fire out of the stage floor and a cabaret feel to the proceedings. Then, the glimmering "Party" turned the vibe to Vegas-style excess, including giant fans of feathers and slot machines spinning on the big screens. Surely she'll have a residency in Sin City when we're casino-obsessed retirees, so why not subliminally prepare us?

Neither "Freakum Dress" nor "I Care" need to be a part of Beyoncé's act in the long term. Both proved to be high-production numbers in the set -- first with ornate, flowing dresses and then a black-leather vibe -- but the songs felt tacked on and having them back-to-back was the only time that the set noticeably sagged, and right at the midpoint of the show.
But then the lift came during the soulful "Schoolin' Life," a bonus track from 2011's 4. Then, for "Why Don't You Love Me" Bey donned a shiny, fringe-y, leopard-print gown and shook her band into action behind her, recalling James Brown when she asked us to "give the drummer some." It got so intense that when she strode down to the crowd, the front row reached out to touch her like maniacs.

Beyoncé at Xcel Energy Center, 7/18/13
Photo by Robin Harper/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images

Though most of the performance concealed it, it's a well-known fact that Beyoncé is not afraid to get strange. It first emerged satisfyingly during "1+1," in which she rolled and contracted herself all over the top of a grand piano in a childlike fashion that could only be her own. Every great artist has to have these moments that will initially make you scratch your head and then eventually become transfixed.

Then, now clad in a sparkling purple bodysuit, she was hoisted over to a smaller circular stage on the other end of the arena to the delight of several holders of expensive tickets. "Irreplaceable" proved worthy of its name once she started singing it. Inexplicably -- or perhaps tellingly -- every single person she handed off the mic to for a "to the left, to the left" couldn't sing worth a lick. "Love on Top" and "Survivor" showed Bey starting to really cook, and the fist-pumping crowd was waiting for something big after she zip-lined back to the main stage.

Following an intro featuring "Countdown," but sadly no performance of it, we got into the franchise section of the night. If there's a Fort Knox moment of Beyoncé's life, it's the moment that "Crazy in Love" became hers. With its bursting horn line, and the addition of some tight dresses that looked suspiciously like they were straight out of Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby, everyone got their eyes massaged by a stage filled with shaking hips that got progressively more dirty Southern. A bit of the Isley Brothers' "Shout" here felt just right. The second half of this one-two was, of course, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." It was so tight and vibrant that the actual fireworks let off at the end felt superfluous.

And, "Halo" proved to be that blockbuster moment at the end. She led into it singing the first bit of "I Will Always Love You" the way Whitney Houston did in The Bodyguard, and the inevitable waterworks followed. For two hours, the building was Beyoncé's palace, and the rest of her band, dancers, crew, and certainly the audience were her subjects. If anyone minded, they didn't show it.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Primarily female. Perhaps a tad more sophisticated than the Rihanna fans that showed up back in March.

Personal Bias: Big fan of both Mr. and Mrs. Carter. Would I have been fine with just watching her reprise the Super Bowl Halftime Show live and then calling it a night? Absolutely.

Random Notebook Dump: This stage design is reminiscent of a Victoria's Secret ad.


Run the World (Girls)

End of Time

Flaws and All

If I Were a Boy

Get Me Bodied

Baby Boy


Naughty Girl


Freakum Dress

I Care

I Miss You

Schoolin' Life

Why Don't You Love Me



Love on Top

Survivor (Destiny's Child)

Crazy in Love

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)

Grown Woman

I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >