Beyonce Knowles @ O2 Arena
To Merely Call This A 'Gig' Would Be One Big Lie!
A wise man once said, 'Never turn down applying for press accreditation to a Beyonce performance, regardless of how many times you've previously watched her'. Dropout UK took this advice, as Mrs Carter is worth watching time and time again. It's testament to the formidable touring force of Beyoncé Knowles that guest appearance from Jay-Z and Kanye West fail to detract the spotlight from the Destiny's Child beauty.
Sipping a Foster’s with a straw (tastes better with a straw..try it!) , I waited. Then amidst a mass of smoke and lights that is enough of a show in itself, Beyoncé's unmistakable figure appears from behind a vast curtain. As ear-splitting screams bounce around the O2 Arena, her silhouette moves closer to the front of the stage, pulling poses that make it clear she means business.
The opening bars of Crazy In Love erupt after a brief clip of Déjà Vu, not that you’d have noticed as it was mostly drowned out by the screams from the adoring crowd. Although surrounded by a dance troupe of bare chested men and tightly clothed ladies, Beyoncé commands attention, strutting across the stage and taking on some pretty impressive dance moves in heels which made us fear for her safety.
Suddenly, the music drops and the bass-heavy rumble of Jay-Z's I Just Wanna Love You (Give It 2 Me) kicks in, and Beyoncé suddenly takes on a more aggressive pose. From the back of the stage, the black-clad figure of Jay-Z himself begins to appear, his rap drowned out by the screams and collective 'oh my God!'s.
From there, the show sets off at a breathless pace, with the stage - awash with gold sequins and banks of bright orange lights - playing host to Naughty Girl, Freakum Dress and Get Me Bodied. Despite an obvious croak in her voice when she talks, and the constant grabbing for tissues, the energy doesn't dip and the voice never falters.
After a quick costume change, the mood is toned down a little, with Beyoncé opting for a white floaty ensemble in which to showcase her - just slightly - calmer ballads. Although some tracks - Smash Into You and Avé Maria - are a little too difficult to swallow following the previous numbers, it’s recent single Broken-Hearted Girl which stands tall onstage as nothing but a simple song, sung beautifully.
Of course, as we all know, Beyoncé is a multi-faceted creature, and the ballads are all well and good, but what the crowd really want to see, even if they’re keeping quiet about it, is Sasha Fierce. Not least the males in the audience given her alter ego’s penchant for even fewer clothes. Radio is a brilliant mix of innocent charm ("the only thing papa allowed to hang out in my room/ With the door closed") and lashes of innuendo over clattering beats, whilst If I Were A Boy becomes an upfront jam, even grabbing a few lines from Alanis Morissette's You Oughta Know.
Not one to leave the guest appearances to just one internationally renowned superstar, Kanye West took to the stage during Ego, his first performance since the Taylor Swift incident. Although Kanye didn’t seem phased, looking his cocky self and sending the crowd into even more hysteria.
Having literally flown over the crowd, Beyonce takes to her smaller stage, gyrating through Check On It and a short medley of Destiny's Child hits, although we were hoping for more than just a performance from the dancers for Survivor and Independent Women.
Tonight’s show also revealed how appreciative she is to those who have put her in such an amazing position- The Fans. At one point she walks the entire length of the front row, shaking hands, cupping faces and wiping away tears of delight, whilst at others she throws out used towels and hands the mic over to , undoubtedly, make some fans’ year, allowing them to scream lyrics back at her, the whole night clearly becoming a triumph, she cracks, and a huge grin breaks out.
The show ends with a spectacular Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), which is performed after a very funny video collection of people performing the dance routine on YouTube. The closing Halo is dedicated to Michael Jackson, which is fitting end to an amazing spectacle from an artist who must surely be considered one of the greatest performers of all time.
It was a pleasure...