Just when you think Beyonce has exhausted all of her surprises for the evening, she'll attach herself to a zip line and glide 20 feet above the general admission area onto an impromptu second stage.
By the time her ensemble of backing dancers reach the area, she's already midway through her next song. Pretty neat, but last night at Staples Center, it was just another moment in her pull-out-all-the-stops stage show.
Beyonce last headlined Staples Center solo four years ago. She released her fourth album, 4, in 2011, though she wasn't able to tour behind it because she was pregnant with future North West playmate, Blue Ivy Carter. Beyonce is now rumored to have completed a fifth album.
And in 2013 she's been extremely visible, from her performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” at President Obama's inauguration in January and the Super Bowl halftime show, to an anniversary trip to Cuba with her husband Jay-Z. She also gave her followers a glimpse behind the curtain with HBO documentary, Life Is But A Dream, which culled footage from her personal and professional life.
When she does tour she wants everything to be perfect, and last night she came close. Having spent six weeks tightening up her Mrs. Carter show in Europe this spring, she steamrolled through a two hour set of her greatest solo hits, with a couple of new songs and a showstopping version of Destiny's Child's “Survivor.” (None of the other Children of Destiny made an appearance, however.)
After hearing critics grumble about the production value on 2009's I Am…World tour, she clearly put a lot of time and energy into getting everything right yesterday, wrapping things up into a precision performance that could easily be called a revue. Before she went on stage, a video played, featuring her dressed like a Victorian era queen, down to the white face, tiara and vintage gowns. The theme was continued in various other interludes throughout the night, which also featured tightly choreographed dance moves, set overhauls, wardrobe changes and sparks literally flying across the stage. And the crowd (er, the “BeyHive”) clearly enjoyed (er, were “buzzing”) about the performance of Beyonce (er, their “Queen Bey”).
When she wasn't singing, dancing or changing clothes, Beyonce fired up the crowd by having the two sides compete, yelling “Hey Ms. Carrrrrr-ttttter!” (We get it, you're married. Sheesh.)
Their energy barely subsided throughout the night; just when the crowd would get comfortable, she would soar through the air or mix in a snippet of a new track, like “Grown Woman,” on which she sang: “I'm a grown woman/I can do what I want.”
Who are we to disagree?
Critical Bias: There are singers and then there's Beyonce. I'd pay to see her clipping her toenails.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Who's gonna babysit Blue Ivy when Jay goes on tour?”