She is number one in the world of pop music right now, but nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for the force of nature that Beyonce is live on stage. The unbridled power of Mrs. Carter’s voice, witnessed by me (and my 6-year-old daughter) at Warsaw Orange Festival, Poland, on May 25 at National Stadium, hits you right in the center of your chest and reverberates through your body.
The energy at the venue was 100% positivity, serotonin levels soaring to the sky, as if you have injected a year’s supply of antioxidants into your body. If Beyonce was exhausted and dehydrated (she was forced to cancel a show – for the first time in her career – in Belgium on doctor’s orders), she didn’t show it.
Dance duo Basement Jaxx was the warm-up act. People danced and cheered for them, but when time came to Beyonce, the 50,000 in the stadium stood up to their feet, as if summoned by an invisible conductor, as if they were doting kids about to meet the most respected teacher at school. It was eerie. People remained standing the whole time.
“Run The World (Girls)” (from her latest album, 4) came first and the people went nuts. Beyonce, in a tight white number with fringy epaulets, in a superhero pose, looked smashing. Next, she performed another 4 track “End Of Time”, and a touching “Flaws And All”.
After a short video interlude and a costume change, Beyonce stepped out in black hat and black bodysuit, thigh-high black boots to perform “If I Were A Boy”, pumped up with some rock guitars and a strong beat, cleverly married to one of my most favourite songs of all time – The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”. After a little chat with the crowd, a string of dance hits began, with “Get Me Bodied” and “Baby Boy”, “Diva”, and (preceded by Donna Summer’s “Love To Love You Baby”) the sexy “Naughty Girl”, as well as “Party”, which had a lovely outro of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”.
Video interludes with dancers on the stage divided the song blocks and costume changes. After a clip featuring B’s royal attire of Marie Antoinette-inspired costumes, her internal organs screaming inside the tightest corset I’ve ever seen, the crazy beats of “Freakum Dress” hit the stage with Beyonce wearing a stunning red gown, slashed on the side to reveal her famous curves, alongside backup dancers in fashion-shoot-ready attire that made everyone salivate and girl crush profusely. Cherry on top? The brilliant guitarist Bibi McGill spit fire out of her sparkly instrument.
Next, Beyonce sang “I Care” and “I Miss You” powerfully, clad in black leather, screaming-chanting at her lover, moving around the glass chair in the center of the stage. She owned the crowd completely as waves of cheers passed around the stadium when she hit those powerful notes. Her voice in person is much more astounding than anything you would expect.
After another video interlude, Beyonce stepped out in a navy-fringed mini, feverishly dancing to “Why Don’t You Love Me”. The comic relief dancers Les Twins entertained the crowd with their break dancing moves while the diva changed into the glittery blue leotard that started the pregnancy rumors. After a grand piano instrumental opening, Beyonce performed a flawless “1+1” on top of the piano, followed by ‘Irreplaceable’ and the always infectious “Love On Top”.
By the time the notes of “Crazy In Love” and “Single Ladies” reached the ears of those around me, it was frenzy and pandemonium all around. Even the guys sang and danced (and by the guys I mean the dudes who film the whole thing on their phones solemnly, cool as cucumbers, pretending not to care).
After another video interlude, Beyonce showed up in a tiny leopard Kenzo, all color and fun, to perform tribal beat, foot stomping, fun romp of a song that “Grown Woman” is, as viral as you would expect any Timbaland production to be. After the last video with lyrics to ‘I Was Here’ spoken by Queen B, she paid tribute to the late Whitney Houston with a snippet of “I Will Always Love You”.
“Halo” followed, and as the end of the concert neared, Beyonce thanked her dancers and musicians one by one, thanked the crew and the audience. Long ovations followed and we could hear the audience chanting and cheering as we walked down the road to catch a cab.
Michael Jackson was Beyonce’s first concert, and she is quickly approaching the level of performance magic that he had. This self-made female artist and mother’s hard work ethic is also inspiring and was on full display at this incredible show. Thanks, B