Beyonce - Hydro Arena, Glasgow, Thu 20 Feb 2014
The Mrs Carter live show is a mesmerising blend of star power, hard-working choreography, pyrotechnics, visual bells and whistles, and damn good music
There are a hundred and one questions which could be asked of Beyonce as a true artistic breaker of boundaries; namely, judging by this performance, the tension between an obviously passionate feminist voice which saw her render the powerful TED talk excerpt from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which begins ‘Bow Down’ as a thundering, high-volume statement spelled out in ten foot tall letters on the screen behind her, even as her trademark and well-deployed booty grind separates men across the hall from their faculties. Of course, the two attitudes are by no means mutually exclusive.
Such thoughts don’t seem to matter in the slightest when you’re faced with such a monumentally thrilling stage show as this, however; a mesmerising blend of star power, hard-working choreography, pyrotechnics, visual bells and whistles, and damn good music which never once treads water. The whole thing is such a staggering success, though, that it lingers on as one of those rare shows where you find yourself musing afterwards on every point which failed to live up to perfection. A spot of the overweening balladry which so blighted the early part of her career towards the end, perhaps? Maybe the fact that the dazzling dance routine to ‘Crazy in Love’ and ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)’ which blew away Glastonbury and T in the Park a couple of years ago was dished out later in the show almost as a footnote.
Amidst a myriad of costume chances and stunning short backing films (Beyonce as a whited-up vampire queen was the most vivid and striking), the darker electro influence of her most recent, eponymous album shone through. ‘Haunted’ was a crunching opener, with more than a nod directed at the dubstep style. ‘If I Were a Boy’ swooped in on a pounding bass and a heavy homage to the Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. ‘Baby Boy’ was characterised by some incredible formation dancing and a video backdrop which ended with a nuclear cataclysm sweeping forests away and a rose withering and dying on the vine, some priceless melodrama to match the power of the song. ‘Blow’ was a mouthwatering disco joint, and ‘Why Don't You Love Me’ was the fiercest call and response effort recorded in a while. It’s a show which leaves you staggering out into the night breathless and satisfied.