After arriving at the arena around 7.30pm and purchasing the expected rip-off tour booklet (£12/$23!), we made our way to our seats. Once seated, I was surprised to see Matthew Knowles, as well as production trio The Bamma Boys, appear on stage to hype the crowd and introduce the opening act – Soul singer Katie Shotter. 20 year old Shotter was the winner of Matthew’s UK TV show ‘Chancers’ and is signed to his label Music World. She was generally well-received by the audience and her material was promising. Yet, by the third song it was like ‘hurry up and get off the stage’. Well, at least that’s what I was thinking Lol…
An already-hyped audience erupted at 8.50pm, when Beyonce finally hit the stage. The spectacle of her entrance alone was pretty amazing; raining pyro served as the backdrop to her grand entry. Beyonce then launched into a rousing performance of mega-hit ‘Crazy in Love’, which set the tone for the rest of the evening. I’d seen her live a few times before and she was great, yet it was evident yesterday that she was performing with increased vigour. She commanded that stage; it was if she was possessed. Sasha was officially in the building.
There were many highlights during the show; including the steamy ‘Baby Boy’ (which was remixed with Reggae classic ‘Murder She Wrote’) and her near-flawless rendition of ‘Dangerously in Love’. The Destiny’s Child Medley was also a standout, with Knowles singing a string of the group’s big hits- crowd participation here was off the charts. Knowles’ vocals were on-point throughout and all songs were sung live – aside from the passable ‘Suga Mama’.
Of the newer songs performed, I was most impressed with ‘Upgrade U’ and ‘Get Me Bodied’. Both performances stayed true to their video counterparts-hence the choreography was hot. Unfortunately the version of ‘Get Me Bodied’ she performed wasn’t the Extended Mix – so no ‘Naomi Campbell walk’ lol– but it was still great nonetheless. Even the limp ‘Flaws & All’ was brought to life via Beyonce’s raw stage presence; she shed a genuine tear during this performance.
The WHOLE arena – women, men, boys, girls and even the arena staff- went into a frenzy when the last song ‘Irreplaceable’ was sung. ‘To the left, to the left’, she encouraged us to sing ‘…even you gangstas too’ she added. At that point I let go of any reluctance and flung my hands up lol. Soon after, we we’re thanked for coming and she walked to the back. I knew that could not be the last song though. ‘Bass…High-Hat….808’ rang out and the audience went CRAZY, as Beyonce gave an encore performance of ‘Déjà Vu’.
* Matthew Knowles sat right behind us for the entire concert at the mixing/recording pit
* Crowd was hyped all the way through
* Her band was incredible…very talented.
* She gave both her band and dancers time to shine.