10 things we learnt at Beyonce’s Melbourne show
Last night Beyonce kicked off the Australian leg of her “Mrs Carter World Tour” in Melbourne. She sang, she danced, she preached, she flew and by the end of the night left her audience in no doubt why she is the world’s biggest pop star. SARAH SMITH reports.
1. This is not a concert, this a spectacle
There were flames, glitter cannons, LED screens, grand pianos, guitar solos, eight costumes changes, a bazillion dance routines, two stages, 10 backing dancers, one cool-as-fuck backing band and one all-singing all-flying Beyonce.
2. Beyonce has some really crazy (in love) fans
But of course, she does. The audience was filled-out by groups of hen’s parties, divorce parties, buck’s parties and families. They came dressed in matching outfits and were adorned with wigs, peak caps and sparkling corsets. They bought ALL THE glowing things on sale from various merch stands and devoured ALL THE margaritas served in glasses that doubled as flashing torches. Ten minutes before show time (clutching ALL THE sparkling things) they initiated a Mexican wave that rippled through Rod Laver arena twice. And when Beyonce finally arrived on stage they screamed. Oh how they screamed.
3. Beyonce isn’t scared of her crazy fans
Beyonce puts on a show that is almost flawless. It is highly choreographed, with every spitting flame, dance routine and sparkle cannon timed down to the very second. So it was surprising to discover that – ever the perfectionist – Bey wasn’t scared to go off script from time to time. On a number of occasions throughout the night she let down the “fourth wall” to engage with her (slightly terrifying) fans. During ‘Irreplaceable’ she allowed crowd members to scream nasally “to the lefts” into the microphone. When one such fan wrapped her arm around the singer to take a selfie instead of singing on queue, Beyonce just laughed, said “Ok, seems she just wants to take a photo then” and obliged. Later in the evening she seemed genuinely humbled by a sign that said “My sister’s name is Beyonce”, asking how old the “other” Bey was. And on multiple occasions she sat side-of-stage, beaming and seemingly nonplussed while her VIP fans clawed at her legs.
4. Beyonce has the coolest band on the planet
For the entirety of the set Beyonce is backed by one of the coolest bands I’ve ever seen (sorry Prince). The group who, as Bey puts it, “just all happen to be women” are phenomenal players and manage to coordinate dance moves and look sassy while doing what they do with total aplomb. At one stage the group’s guitarist (the excruciatingly suave Bibi McGill) – dressed in head-to-toe black leather – joined Beyonce on stage to perform a Slash-sized solo while sparks flew out of her instrument: rock with a touch of Bey. But it was her drummer – Cora Dunham – who undoubtedly stole the show. Bearing a striking resemblance to Missy Elliot, Dunham solos and pummels with the kind of energy and jaw-dropping precision not often seen at a pop show. She earned every single one of her (many) close-ups on the big screen.
5. Even the intermissions were Bey-mazing
The set-list for Mrs Carters World Tour is littered with “intermissions”, which is usually code for “watch some lasers flash around while we play some loud music for five minutes”. But for Beyonce even the intermissions are a time to shine. The main set segued flawlessly in and out of each intermission so well, it was easy to forget that the star of the show wasn’t on stage. Each of these changeovers came with its own highly stylised short featuring Beyonce saying things like “isolation brings revelation”, and jaw-dropping dance routines from her backing dance troupe: eight ladies and “the only gentlemen on the tour”, identical twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois. During one choreographed break gothic ballerinas teetered around to a spooky baroque soundtrack that was like a slightly messed up Nutcracker. Moments like that add an unexpected depth to the show and offset the sugary pop perfectly.
6. Beyonce sure can sing (and dance)
Oh my, can she sing. Over the course of the two-hour show Beyonce’s voice never faulted once. It seemed a risk, that after stretching her vocal chords for so long, she finished the night with a dedication to Whitney Houston with a cover of ‘I Will Always Love You’ and the powerhouse ‘Halo’, but her vocal performance was spot on. What makes this all the more impressive is the fact that she doesn’t let her backing dancers do all the work. She is at the forefront of all the routines and it was quite baffling that we never heard her pant, or break note.
7. Beyonce brings the hits (but it’s not a hit-fest)
Due to the highly-stylised nature of the show the setlist on the Mrs Carter World Tour doesn’t really change all that much, however Melbourne got Destiny’s Child cover ‘Survivor’, where Auckland did not. She opened on ‘Run The World’, and finished up the main set with a run of ‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Grown Woman’. But it’s some of the “lesser hits” that really stuck . ‘Why Don’t You Love’ me and ‘1+1’ – sung atop a baby grand piano – were all highlights. Somewhat disappointingly though she relegated ‘Countdown’ to a recorded intermission.
8. Beyonce makes you believe girls really run the world
“Girl Power” is nothing new in the world of pop (oh hai Spice Girls!), but Beyonce lives and breathes woman power, whether it be through song (‘I’m a Grown Woman’, ‘Survivor’, ‘Run The World’, ‘Naughty Girl’ etc.); the phenomenally talented troupe of women she proudly surrounds herself with (special shout-out to her backing vocalists “The Mamas”); or her constant reiteration that as women we should be strong and proud of ourselves. And she does it with total class without reducing the message to a simple slogan or dumbing it down. It’s refreshing, intelligent, believable and … oh what heck, GIRL POWER!
9. Seeing Beyonce fly through the air on a zip wire is 10 times cooler than you can imagine
Imagine how cool it would be to see Beyonce fly through the air on a zip wire and then times how cool you think that would be by 10. Not only did she do it wearing her best outfit – a purple, sparkling body suit – when she “zipped” back again (from a second stage in the shape of a “B” situated the back of Rod Laver), she did it while fist-pumping to ‘Survivor’. Beyonce. In a purple body suit. Flying. Fist-pumping to ‘Survivor’. ‘Nuff said.
10. In 10 years time you’ll be telling people you were at the Beyonce concert
At the concert’s conclusion – between singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to audience members and thanking all of her crew Beyonce casually said: “In ten years time you will be telling everyone you were at the Beyonce concert.” And frankly, she’s right. Beyonce is one of the greatest entertainers in the world right now and she is clearly intent on building a legacy that will have her name cemented alongside the greats. She isn’t a flash in the pan, or a cookie-cutter pop star, she is a perfectionist and a perfect one at that.
Final tickets are available for all remaining Melbourne shows: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at Rod Laver Arena. Book through Ticketek.
Beyonce tour dates:
Wednesday, October 23 – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Friday, October 25 – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Saturday, October 26 – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Monday, October 28 – Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Tuesday, October 29 – Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Thursday, October 31 – Allphones Arena, Sydney
Friday, November 1 – Allphones Arena, Sydney
Saturday, November 2 – Allphones Arena, Sydney Sold out
Sunday, November 3 – Allphones Arena, Sydney
Tuesday, November 5 – Entertainment Centre, Adelaide S
Wednesday, November 6 – Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
Friday, November 8 – Perth Arena, Perth Sold out
Saturday, November 9 – Perth Arena, Perth