With Bun B and DJ Khaled
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
Monday, May 9, 2016
There are few artists capable of giving performances that transcend to something beyond just a plain old concert, but Beyoncé is chief among them. Outside of her status as an artistic visionary, fashion legend and feminist icon, Queen Bey is, at her very core, one hell of a performer. And that’s exactly what was on display at Monday night’s sold-out show at AT&T Stadium.
As she worked her way through her expansive catalog, it felt almost autobiographical. The show ranged from “Crazy in Love” to “Sorry” to “Freakum Dress,” each indicative of Beyoncé as an artist and woman at different points in her career. At the end, it all culminated in Beyoncé’s evolution into a self-actualized, self-assured artist.
That confidence was more on display than anything else. Despite the infidelities of her husband, Jay Z, that lie at the heart of the recently released visual album Lemonade, fans at AT&T Stadium last night saw a radiant, happy Beyoncé. She was the sort of star who reminds her fans that the most important relationship in their lives is the one that they have with themselves, and recognizes where she comes from. More than once, Beyonce happily repped her home state, at one point saying, “Thank you, Texas, for all your support over the years. Thank you for allowing me to grow.”
Last night’s show was also a very pointed celebration of black women. She was backed by a band entirely comprised of women of color, most notably an incredible guitar player who stepped into the forefront to shred an amazing solo just before Beyoncé launched into “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” She celebrated her status as the Queen Bey as she mounted an exquisite silver throne just before launching into a medley that wove together “Naughty Girl” and “Sound the Alarm.” The venue’s stage, which included a lengthy catwalk that jutted more than halfway into the seats on the concert floor, was gigantic, and Beyoncé commanded every inch of it, well, flawlessly.
It’s almost impossible to choose a high point of the evening, because the performance was really a two-hour master class in excellence. An a capella rendition of "Love On Top" showcased her vocal chops. In a tribute performance of “Purple Rain” and of “Daddy Lessons” paired with a fierce dance number alike, Beyoncé showed no signs of weakness.
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It might have been easy for many, especially those at higher altitudes in the venue, to get caught up in the spectacle. There was confetti, pyrotechnic displays, a gigantic LED wall that projected intricate pieces of visual art. And, of course, there was Beyoncé dressed in a remarkable red latex get-up that should be enshrined in the Smithsonian once retired from tour. But last night’s show was more than mere spectacle.
Beyond all the costumes and the visual elements and the dance moves, there is raw artistry behind Beyoncé’s work. There’s story, there’s poetry, there’s a consistent, visually stunning aesthetic. There are plenty of artists who are capable of putting on a good show, but many lack the depth to leave nearly 50,000 people feeling empowered one moment and on the verge of tears the next. Beyoncé wields that power, and is capable of creating true magic because of it. If there are any minor quibbles with last night’s show at AT&T Stadium, they’re all with the venue. For whatever reason – perhaps by directive of the Queen – the Jumbotron did not project the show for those in the upper tiers to see. As anyone who’s been to AT&T Stadium before well knows, that Jumbotron is an essential part of the viewing experience in a massive venue like this.
Many of the more intimate details – like Beyoncé’s lethally sexy gyration on that table from the "Partition" video – were lost because of it. A number of fans were sold tickets that provided just glimpses at the two video monitors on either side of the stage, which seems both unfair to the fans and the artistry. Fortunately, just being in the mere presence of Beyoncé last night was enough to leave you walking out of AT&T Stadium in a stupor.
If anything, last night’s show proved that twenty years into her career, Beyoncé is better than ever. And as much as there’s really nothing more dazzling than seeing such a remarkably talented artist in their prime, that’s especially true when you’re talking about a once in a lifetime talent like Beyoncé. To put it ever so mildly, the Queen came to slay. And slay she did.