She is the diva of our times, so it was no great surprise when Beyoncé kept the crowd waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for this debut of the already long-awaited latest leg of her Mrs Carter Show World Tour, which has been reworked to accommodate tracks from her new self-titled “visual” album.
Not unlike Madonna’s MDNA tour, this was an impressive state-of-the-art pop theatre spectacle which was perversely short on pop and long on the dark, moody R&B likes of Drunk In Love and arty filmed set pieces, like glorified perfume advertisements, which were deployed to cover the costume changes.
Being the consummate showbiz Amazon, there was not a determined step nor immaculately coiffed hair out of place, despite the constant buffeting of the wind machine and Beyoncé’s many outfits made the most of her curvy silhouette. Clad at one point in the world’s sparkliest catsuit, she gave off an alien shimmer as she glided across the stage.
We were definitely in the presence of a superior being and no amount of declarations of love for the fans, invitations to sing with her (microphone held out to audience members, but generally not so close that we might actually hear the hollering) and positive reinforcement messages for the girls in attendance (sorry guys, she just isn’t that into you) brought her any closer to earth.
The problem was that behind the Teflon grooves, the ruthlessly efficient dance routines, the choreographed flirtation with the crowd, even the deliberately all-girl band, there was no heart to the performance.
It is strange, not to mention frustrating, that such an accomplished vocalist has so little of note to interpret. Her gutsy gospel chops, call-and-response games and vocal gymnastic exercises were admirable but somewhat wasted without a killer song to nail down.
A disco-influenced chapter allowed her to use her sweeter tone and shake to a warmer, funkier groove, while Irreplaceable and the sweetly suggestive Love On Top were what passed for intimate interludes.
Her most slamming tune, Crazy In Love, and the popular din that is Single Ladies were summarily dispatched in a concise medley with accompanying glitter shower, while the mawkish Halo proved a big audience favourite to finish.
But overall this precision-drilled presentation did not allow for any of those simple, celebratory moments that lift and unite a crowd and take a show somewhere unexpected and special.
Rating: * * *