Bow down to the Queen of pop
Beyonce raises roof with stellar gig at Dublin’s O2
It was B Day. Beyonce Knowles arrived into Dublin on her Mrs Carter tour (named after her husband Shawn Carter, otherwise known as Jay-Z) on a wave of superstardom, her fame showing no sign of receding to the shore of pop pretenders.
This is an artist at the top of her game. By the end of this tour, her and Jay-Z will be a billion dollar couple. And at the O2 in the capital, she worked hard for her money.
The work was effortless, the professionalism natural, the celebrity well earned. Her support act Luke James, a New Orleans RnB singer, serenaded a rose and then set up Beyonce’s arrival, “if it was not for her, I wouldn’t be here… That woman, her name is Mrs. Carter… Her name is Beyonce.”
The screams shook the roof of the auditorium, but still a wait was in store. At twenty minutes past nine, after a video for Chime For Change, a campaign to promote education and justice for girls globally, followed by a Pepsi ad – both matching Beyonce’s penchant for charity and commercialism – the lights went off.
The refrain of “who run the world, GIRLS” rang out and the Texan singer was in the building. The excitement was amplified by the screams of women of all ages, and some men, all invested and in awe of Beyonce’s message of female empowerment, her phenomenal vocal ability, songwriting skills, and a spectacle that would make Madonna, Rihanna and Lady Gaga go back to the drawing board.
It’s unusual for a star not to be touring an album, but Beyonce’s latest record is still in limbo. Her recent songs have been overshadowed by multi-million H&M and Pepsi campaigns, and her cannon of hits was held back for lesser-known numbers and a misjudged arrangement of ‘If I Were A Boy’.
Above the stage, her all-female band led by guitarist Bibi McGill occasionally encroached on Knowles’ note-prefect vocal. Everything-along-with-the-kitchen-sink visuals depicted the singer as Marie Antoinette and Nefertiti. Video messages halfway between perfume ads and Oprah monologues offered spiritual embellishment.
Then the hits came - ‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Irreplaceable’ brought the gods to their feet. Glitter fell, fists were raised, Beyonce clutched the hands of those in the front row. A tribute to Whitney Houston preceded ‘Halo’. A chorus of ‘Ole Ole Ole’ was led by the woman herself holding a tricolour and appreciating the amplified cheering and stomping. When the curtain finally fell, the audience were shaking their heads at the audacity and brilliance of one woman on stage.
Her relentless choreography, embellished by the dancers Les Twins, her appreciation for the crowd, and ultimately the bombastic nature of her vocal abilities made the songs soar.
As the crowd filtered out on to the quays, the choruses and refrains rang out and were carried on the cutting wind. Who run the world? Ms Knowles.