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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
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
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.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition