They came in their thousands – devoted fans ready to worship at the altar of Beyoncé, all big hair, hot pants and light-up plastic bows at the LG Arena in Birmingham. It is just 10 months since The Mrs Carter Show World Tour roared into Birmingham. But since then, Queen Bey unleashed her shock pre-Christmas album to massive critical acclaim and then within days announced she was coming back to Brum, bringing a completely reworked tour along with her.
The anticipation was palpable at the LG Arena as fans waited, and waited, for their heroine to arrive on stage. Just minutes before 9am, a stirling drum solo, accompanied with a video of a white-faced Mrs Carter, in a Renaissance era scene, was a precursor to her spectacular entrance at Birmingham’s LG Arena. First, the all-female dancers from the video emerged, followed by the all-female band on a platform, and then, while the eyes were diverted, Queen B buzzed up onto the stage via a sneaky lift, that bootylicious body clad in a white sparkly leotard and black boots.The seated masses were on their feet, and that’s how they stayed throughout.
Just days after her pared-down performance at The Brits split opinion – some describing it as ‘boring’ and others insisting it was the stand-out part of the show – there was no mistaking which Beyoncé we were getting to see.
‘Birming-HAM!’ she hollered to her adoring fans who roared back in appreciation, before she launched into a fierce rendition of Run The World. For the non-believers, I’ll explain that this song is a foot-stomping, arm-waving feminist rant of a track about girls ruling earth. This was to be an evening packed full of messages for the sisterhood – basically that you can be mother, wife and worker and still ooze sex appeal every minute of the day. Well you can if you’re Beyoncé anyway!
The feminist speech by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which appears on her latest album then echoed around the room. It includes the line: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls ‘You can have ambition, but not too much’.”
A pumped-up Beyoncé launched into Flawless, and then Baby Boy. Then we were given more messages, this time from a recording of Beyoncé herself. She spoke about sensuality being a gift, a gift that gives you power, power that you can manipulate and celebrate. She went off stage and reappeared in a sequinned body suit with defined golden nipples proclaiming she was going to be a Naughty Girl, and then sang her track of the same name. All doe eyes and pelvic thrusts, she was sex on those famously Amazonion legs as she stalked around the stage dancing in her trademark animalistic, primal way. She finished her raunchiest performance by writhing around on a giant chair, before straddling another for her hit Drunk in Love. We were out of breath just watching her – she barely broke a sweat.
Beyoncé seemed to get genuinely emotional as the crowd sang Irreplaceable back at her before she walked amongst them, shaking hands and sharing her microphone on the way to a mini stage in the middle of the floor for the uplifting Love on Top.
Crazy in Love, which is an unbelievable 11 years old, was met with cheers as was Single Ladies, thousands of turning hands aloft as she performed her famous dance routine. She sang her latest single XO and finished with a rousing rendition of Halo.
She made many fans’ nights by holding their hands and singing alongside them, but none could be more happier than Shanaz, a girl at the front of the stage who Beyoncé spotted was celebrating and sang Happy Birthday to.
Overall, it was completely spectacular. The set is broken up by lavish video presentations featuring Beyoncé, at various points, in royal regalia, dressed up as a WWII fighter pilot and frolicking on the beach with her family. She brought fire, glitter and confetti cannons, along with a huge 12-piece, all female band and an amazing troupe of dancers, including Les Twins, two identical twin dancers, the only male members of the onstage troupe.
I took my boyfriend with me to watch Beyoncé, and he wasn’t particularly a fan before the show, but after two hours, he was converted.
Something about her makes you feel like you can achieve absolutely anything – provided you’re wearing thigh-skimming sparkly hot pants and not a right lot else. If you’re going tonight or any other remaining dates on her tour, you’ll have an absolute belter!