Glitz, precision choreography and high-performance art are all trademarks of a Beyoncé concert, but Queen Bey set a new standard with her Renaissance Tour. Melan contributor Louise Chandler was at her London residency and shares everything you need to know about the show.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour is arguably THE biggest musical event of the year. As soon as news broke about the tour, fans of the multi-award-winning artiste frantically tried to nab tickets to the concert nearest their hometown, some were even happy to travel much further away. I was one of the lucky ones. I managed to get my hands on tickets to the London residency of her European tour and with anticipation, headed to the mirror ball stage at Tottenham Stadium on a sunny June evening.
To fill a stadium with a capacity of 60,000 plus is not an easy task. But, when you are a mega star with seven studio albums, 32 Grammy Award wins and a 57-date tour, it is clear Beyoncé is in a league of her own.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour: The show begins
While waiting for the concert to start, there is a hum of anticipation and excitement. A pulsating crowd amuse themselves with Mexican waves, chanting, chatter and milling around. Then boom, the music starts. A two-minute musical instrumental lets us know the show is about to start. A large digital screen at the front of the stadium flickers into action.
There is no support act. It’s Beyoncé’s first solo tour in seven years, so she has plenty to share and sing about to an enthusiastic and excitable crowd who cheer and whoop at every opportunity.
I hear her soft Texan voice say “London, how are you?” and with her trademark long honey blonde flowing bouffant locks, Beyoncé slowly emerges from underneath the stage, ready for her first song ‘Dangerously in Love’. She thanks the crowd, tells them the night is about being free and that she is grateful to do what she loves. Based on the next 90 minutes, you certainly believe her. No doubt, there were months of rehearsals, but her stage presence, performance and choreography look effortless and even enjoyable with plenty of smiles from the 41-year-old singer.
This isn’t a show where you sit (or stand) still. The six chapters or acts (Opening Act, Renaissance, Motherboard, Opulence, Anointed and Mind Control) take you on a journey through Beyoncé’s back catalogue. With each act, comes a montage of video clips created, collated, and filmed especially for the tour that keep your eyes glued to the large screen. There’s kaleidoscope style imagery and quick editing to draw you in to each video theme.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour: A nod to LGBT+ underground culture
The short videos with audio commentary also pay tribute to the LGBT+ underground culture. They are almost like mini music videos themselves with tracks from her back catalogue. The LGBT+ Ball lifestyle and culture features heavily throughout the whole show (think of pageants and performances in the TV show POSE based on 70s and 80s New York). There’s lots of voguing and tributes paid to the Black and queer pioneers of that time.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour: Fabulous costumes
The videos also give the lady a chance to change her look and costume.
Let’s talk about her outfits. The outfits seamlessly sync with the songs – red sequin jump suit that shimmers and shines when she sings Formation. A Thierry Mugler bespoke outfit that is yellow and black like a bumble bee. For Cuff It and Break My Soul Beyoncé struts her stuff in a silver swimsuit while a golden glitter nude jumpsuit is the outfit for Virgo’s Groove. Beyoncé works the stage like the pro she is; singing, dancing, and recreating complicated choreography from her famous music videos with ease. The stilettoes or thigh thigh-high boots are also a sight to see – how does she dance in them is what goes through my mind?
Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour: High quality production
The onstage production is slick. There are cameras at all angles to capture every hair flick, smile and dance movement – a camera from above the stage, a tracking shot to slowly pan with Queen Bey as she moves plus a sky cam captures every move.
The music is loud. There’s an ever-present booming base that vibrates and shakes your chest – almost like you’re stood by a sounds system and very much a part of the party.
The staging is innovatively different. After 20 plus years going to gigs, I’ve never seen a performer interact with robotic arms that are choreographed to music. Add to that the monumental sculptures, a metallic hydraulic tank engineered to move as Beyoncé sings from the top of a stand, mannequin-horses, pyrotechnics, CGI and ultraviolet technology, the show is a visual spectacle.
Eight facts I loved about the concert
- The concern begins with slow, mellow and mid-tempo songs from the early stage of her career. Accompanied by a piano player and sultry backing vocals, Queen Bey eases us into her world gently. She saves the big anthems for later on in the show.
- The songs you would expect to hear (Single Ladies) are not featured in the set list. If you’re expecting a greatest hits gig with her favourite songs, this stadium show is completely different. Instead, Beyoncé chooses tunes from her playlist that surprise but entertains, nonetheless.
- There is a lovely piano tribute to Tina Turner [RIP] with an emotional rendition of “River deep mountain high” which was clearly moving for the singer. She performed with Tina Turner in 2008.
- Yes, her daughter Blue Ivy makes an onstage appearance to dance in a head-to-toe red jump suit! The 11-year-old led the 20 dancers down a runway style stage with energetic choreography and swagger, as if she’s been dancing on stages for years.
- The night is about a celebration of music, fusing hip-hop, rap, disco, techno, soul, RnB and much more. There are nods to Madonna (Vogue), a Grace Jones duet (Move out the Way), a Jackson Five version of ABC and Maze’s 1981 soulful song Before I Let you go.
- There is only a subtle nod to the Destiny’s Child days. I hoped she might feature a few more songs from her time in the girl group. Say My Name is mixed into a performance of her 2004 song Naughty Girl for a few seconds.
- There is a large troupe of dancers. In fact, I counted twenty people of all ages, genders, body sizes and abilities who swarmed around Queen Bey for the full 90 minutes. Individual in their dance styles but collectively brilliant.
- The show ends with Bey arriving on stage on a silver encrusted horse (like the one on her Renaissance album cover). She is covered in a head-to-toe silver cloak that is glitzy and before you know it, she is floating above the stage and crowd in a harness like an ethereal angel.
The Renaissance album explores themes and feelings of escapism, hedonism, self-assurance and self-expression and this concert is a beautiful representation of the album, come to life. Not bad for a girl who started her musical career at nine years’ old in a girl group, auditioning for customers in her mum’s hair salon! Through the ‘Virgo-esque’ professionalism and attention to detail, in her performance, you can still witness that same childlike joy and enthusiasm. Bravo Queen Bey and see you on the next tour!