Beyonce, Mrs Carter Show World Tour, review
Hydro Arena, Glasgow: You can't take your eyes or ears off her
Friday 21 February 2014
“A little sweat never hurt nobody,” hollers Beyonce Knowles during her track Get Me Bodied. It's barely a quarter of the way through this frankly mighty first UK date of her Mrs Carter world tour, and surely all of the twelve thousand plus in attendance could do little but agree.
The first time the former Destiny's Child played in Scotland was eleven years ago in a shopping mall come concert hall near Glasgow Airport, and her pouting, serious-faced procession of ballads flattered to deceive.
By contrast this near two-hour epic is a ferocious distillation of musical styles old and new and a stunning declaration of intent that Knowles intends to be recognised as the defining pop artist of her era. It was, at the very least, one of the hardest working shows likely to be witnessed on a stage this year, and with barely a drop of minutely-choreographed sweat to be seen.
From the first minute something unique is promised, with a procession of dancers emerging from the stage for an extended and elaborately balletic routine before a giant LED screen, the tone mysterious and teasing as the screen eventually raises to reveal Knowles floating on slowly in a neck-to-toe ballgown.
The music is something else, a blend of her familiar deep-lunged torch singing with a thundering bass containing a heavy dubstep influence amidst the opening Haunted, segueing through an unearthly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers screech into Drunk in Love.
“Y'all gonna sing along with me, right?” she commands, legs akimbo on a chair in a sequinned catsuit, lost in a kaleidoscope of lights on the screens behind her.
The darker electro influence of this winter's latest, eponymous album is embraced fully in the early stages of the show, from the reappropriation of If I Were a Boy - bass crackling like thunder, the strings and some lyrics of the Verve's Bittersweet Symphony blended in, and a chugging guitar riff buried somewhere in the mix - to the raw tumult of Bow Down, prefaced by a big-budget, grand guignol film clip portraying Knowles as a vampire queen in white face paint.
Flawless was an exercise in sheer sass and retro Bronx street chic accessorised with leather shorts, braziers burning onstage as her crew danced and she spat out that commanding “I woke up like this” chorus line, an “I am what I am” for the 2010s.
Pages could be written outside the bounds of reportage about her decision to use Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED speech on feminism (beginning “we teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller...” and spelled out here in rousing, ten foot tall words) and of where her own work and image fits the sentiment of such a statement, but there's no question Knowles is a model of power and control throughout, even when her muse extends to writhing atop a grand piano or grinding through the disco-soaked majesty of Blow.
The call and response demands for more love from her crowd during Why Don't You Love Me were particularly mesmerising in their assurance, although perhaps the most telling story of Knowles' confidence in her music and performance came with shortened versions of the formation-dancing Crazy in Love and Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) which once blew away Glastonbury and a watching nation.
In her career as with her live show, she keeps on moving on and you can't take your eyes or ears off her.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Madonna claims jokes about her age tantamount to racism: 'No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black'
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia