Stunning. Jaw-dropping. Mesmerizing. Provocative. Overwhelming. Life-affirming. Soul-wrenching. Arresting. Dynamic. Enigmatic. Spectacular.
There are so many words that could be used to describe Beyonce's show last night at the Target Center, and all of them look superfluous on paper and yet feel meaningless compared to the preposterous magnitude of her actual performance.
Let's try this: When fellow Gimme Noise blogger David and I were walking out of the arena last night, we both simultaneously remarked that it was one of the best shows we had ever seen. We are not wont to make grand statements such as these (well, maybe I am from time to time, but David certainly is not), but there was no denying it; throughout the show, we looked at each other with jaws slacked, slapped each other's arms in disbelief, became overcome with emotion at the same moments, and stood up and danced ridiculously whenever the diva commanded us. Despite the fact that David and I come from very different musical backgrounds, Beyonce's words, songs, and moves affected both of us in a very universal way.
Which is all a diva can ask for, really: to maximize her impact as an entertainer by appealing to just about anybody who will stop to listen. But to compare her to other divas and pop stars seems foolish. Sure, she has Tina Turner's legs, Mariah Carey's range, Christina Aguilara's lungs, Justin Timberlake's moves--but so many more elements of her performance are without peer. Her stage presence was so fierce that when she looked up into our section of the crowd way up in the second tier, it felt like she was looking right at us. A simple booty-shaking strut across the stage was enough to get the whole arena shrieking, nevermind her seemingly effortless dancing and acrobatics. Her backup dancers were a thin layer of icing atop an already decadent cake, and often times their costumes and choreography were overshadowed by what Beyonce herself was doing.
Simply put, it was a far cry from the last arena pop show we had seen -- Beyonce made Britney Spears' poor excuse for showmanship and spectacle look like an off-Broadway rendition of Weekend at Bernies.
Beyonce was backed by a 13-piece all-girl band, a fact that she proudly pointed out midway through the show as she cried, "Give it up for my all female band, y'all!" Her backing band and crew of male and female backup dancers kept the audience busy while Beyonce slipped backstage to change into a variety of stunning outfits: a gold glitter one-piece, a white leotard and flowing robe, a wedding dress, a hybrid gladiator/cop outfit, a ballgown. All told, there were seven costume changes, and she looked radiant in all of them, even the more ridiculous getups.
But for all the spectacle -- at one point Beyonce somersaulted over the audience in a trapeze before being lowered onto a stage in the center of the room -- the real show-stealer was her powerful, commanding voice. She pumped new life into overplayed, tired old songs like Sarah MacLachlan's "Angel" and Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know," and got teardrops falling down more than a few cheeks with a heart-renching aria on "Ave Maria." In fact, tears stung my eyes more than once while watching Beyonce; toward the end of her set, she sang "At Last" while clips of Obama on Inauguration Day flashed across the screen, ending with a video of Barack and Michelle dancing together while Beyonce herself serenaded them for their first inaugural dance.
And now I've made the mistake of finding that clip on YouTube, and here come the waterworks again. For now, I'll leave you with this clip, a link to David's review, and the set list from last night's show.
Crazy in Love
Get Me Bodied
Smash Into You
Ave Maria/Angel (Sarah McLachlan) medley
Broken Hearted Girl
If I Were a Boy/You Oughta Know (Alanis Morisette) medley
Me, Myself and I
Bass solo with Michael Jackson medley
Backup singers "The Mommas" sing "We Got It"
Check On It
Independent Women/Survivor medley
Halo/Michael Jackson tribute/Happy Birthday medley