Beyoncé, 02 Arena, London

4.00

Diva who answers the call of booty

There are ways to start a show and ways to start a show. And then there's the Beyoncé way. Almost entirely obscured by smoke, she stalks out alone on to the vast arena stage and strikes a pose in silhouette. The lights go up and there she shimmers – in spangly gold leotard and stilettos, her leonine locks blowing in a breeze that follows her, and only her, wherever she moves. The extraordinary ensemble is topped (or should that be bottomed) off by the most enormous gold-sequined bow on her ever-undulating booty. She's joined by two dancers in PVC catsuits and a sassy all-female band who, to hysterical whoops from the crowd, push out the opening horn blasts of "Crazy in Love", Beyoncé's brassiest and most joyous tune and one of the finest pop songs of the last decade. A couple more PVC-clad dancers emerge, canons on either side of the stage puff clouds of glitter out over the crowd – and we're off.

It's a bold move to open a show with your best song, but then the 27-year-old Texan diva can afford to be bold. In the last six months alone, she has scored her highest-selling UK single with "If I Were a Boy", sung for the First Couple at Barack Obama's inauguration and spawned an internet dance sensation with "Single Ladies" (the show's climax, introduced by a hilarious montage of YouTube tributes). Tonight, whether it's the power balladry of "Listen", the dancehall grind of "Baby Boy" or the electro hook of "Diva", she sings her heart out. This is an astonishingly high-energy show, the ambitious choreography barely grazing her perfect, lung-busting vocals which run from caramel smooth to honeyed foghorn.

This tour is linked to her third solo release, I Am... Sasha Fierce, a two-disc concept album divided into her usual R&B fare and dancier, dirtier electro-tinged tunes. The latter encapsulate her on-stage alter-ego, Sasha Fierce – who on tonight's evidence looks just like Beyoncé, only with more make-up, directional hair and a better sense of humour. In fact, the show's generous run of around 30 songs introduces us to any number of different Beyoncés – showgirl, balladeer, feminist, rock chick, gangster queen, cyborg – via off-stage costume changes and a leotard for every mood, including one which looks like the front end of a Harley-Davidson, complete with flashing headlamps.

After an exhilarating start, the show divides into an evening of two halves – just like B herself. An early run of album tracks are impressively executed but aren't as strong as her older material or the singles. And there's an exceedingly odd segment when Beyoncé morphs into a bridal monster in gravity-defying crinoline and veil and sings "Ave Maria" in an operatic soprano. The pace picks up again with "If I Were a Boy", for which Beyoncé dons Ray Bans and a leather breastplate to whip up a quasi-feminist singalong.

These free, communal moments are the best of the night. With little interaction for the first hour, watching Beyoncé sing and strut her stuff can feel at best overawing, at worst, alienating. She takes her role as entertainer so seriously she's almost too good.

It's down to a man in trunks to bang a gong and herald the second, better half. Beyoncé floats into the air on a swing, and flies over the crowd, turning somersaults on the way, before landing on a stage in the middle of the arena. From there, she leads the audience in the "to the left, to the left" chorus of "Irreplaceable" and launches into a roof-raising Destiny's Child medley.

She finishes with the big hitters – Etta James's "At Last", accompanied by Obama footage (prompting the biggest cheer of the night), an uplifting "Listen" from Dreamgirls, a tireless "Single Ladies" and a sweeping encore of "Halo". It's a neat encapsulation of all her many facets. Truly, a diva for every occasion.

Touring to 9 June

Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in 2011

Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandal

books
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian Jack Dee has allegedly threatened to quit as chairman of long-running Radio 4 panel show 'I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue'

Edinburgh Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Director Paul Thomas Anderson (right) and his movie The Master featuring Joaquin Phoenix

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>Laura
Carmichael- Lady Edith Crawley</strong></p>
<p>Carmichael currently stars as Sonya in the West End production of
Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre. She made headlines this autumn
when Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall shouted at her in a
half-sleepy state during her performance. </p>
<p>Carmichael made another appearance on the stage in 2011, playing
two characters in David Hare’s <em>Plent</em>y
at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. </p>
<p>Away from the stage she starred as receptionist Sal in the 2011
film <em>Tinker Tailor Solider Spy</em>. </p>

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana admits she's

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star