Beyoncé delivers us a PG version of Sasha Fierce.
Support Luke James gives us a basic R&B soul set including covers from Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. Really the New Orleans native could have just stood there and stripped because it was all the female strong audience really wanted to see, it turned into a hen night swiftly after he removed his jacket. James, a former backup singer and songwriter to the stars is a capable soul singer with a rather basic repertoire of songs.
Beyoncé’s show opens with ‘Run The World (Girls)’ alongside her all female band. With all the promo involved, the Marie Antoinette styling by Thierry Mugler it was a little disappointing to see her arrive on stage in a subtle white leotard. After the big song and dance number she soon takes it down to perform a soulful ‘End of time’ and ‘Flaws’.
A musical highlight is ‘If I Were A Boy’, I can’t help but miss the live rocked up arrangement she used to perform, but there’s a nice sly inclusion of The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. A visual highlight is the return of the screens premiered at the 2011 AMA’s, Bey and her backing dances dance in front of a screen which mix live dance and virtual choreography which gives an impressive mind bending effect. The dance routines are fascinating and the ‘Les Twins’, twin break dancers are really stars of the show.
As costume and set changes happen a collection of half-fashion short film, and half-empowering spoken word play on, these are captivating but after a while you start to feel short changed. After all, you pay a hefty ticket price to see her in person, not a five minute video. You feel like you don’t get enough to time to sink into the music before she’s finished the song (often shortened) and has launched into another costume change + video combination. ‘Countdown’ is used only in video form for less than a minute leaving you wanting more.
She jumps on a wire and zips over to ‘B stage’ which gives a better view to the seated crowd at the back of the 15.000 strong capacity venue. ‘Irreplaceable’ is the biggest sing along of the night followed by a welcomed version of Destiny’s Child ‘Survivor’. She then whizzes back to the main stage for an energetic dance filled performance of ‘Crazy In Love’ and ‘Single Ladies’ before introducing new song, the African influenced, ‘Grown Woman’.
She leaves us with an encore that starts with a heart filled version of ‘I Will Love You’, a moment perhaps better for a more sentimental American audience, instead this causes a drunken karaoke moment worthy of a Brummy curry house on a Friday Night. Beyoncé keeps this in Dreamgirls mode but ending with a heart filled rendition of ‘Halo’. Her voice is beautiful but you feel like the dancing has overshadowed the music tonight.
Beyoncé is the Kate Middleton of the pop world, beautiful and friendly yet you feel you will never ever know who Beyoncé Knowles really is.