“Don’t Worry Be Yoncé,” said the fan t-shirts. No need for anxiety where Beyoncé is concerned – there is never a note nor a foot out of place at one of her shows, just maybe the occasional braid as she whipped her hair back and forth.
Beyoncé | Rating: **** | Hampden Park, Glasgow
On this occasion, she didn’t even adhere to the diva timetable. A mere 20 minutes after official showtime, the towering, monolithic white block in the middle of the stage began to pulse to a deafening, quaking bass, an indication of the totalitarian assault to come as Queen Bey marched her battalion of dancers out along the catwalks in regimented style. The Formation World Tour is well named.
This was a two-hour display of female power and prowess, where the only men on the stage were the ones handing out the towels. Her hard-working band of righteous musicians were corralled in lean-to canopies on either side of the stage but occasionally broke free for filler solos. All eyes were on Bey and her Amazonian army on precision manoeuvres, delivering athletic street choreography with an arty edge across six themed acts.
The black clad Act One throbbed to hard, flinty hip-hop grooves and an imperious dominatrix theme exemplified by Bow Down and Run The World. The celestial second act took Bey back to her pre-bass music melisma days. The old-fashioned schmaltzy R&B of Me, Myself & I was accompanied by a rote message of self-empowerment which later manifested as vacuous vanity on Flawless.
The red mist descended for the third act when the raging devilry of Don’t Hurt Yourself injected a hint of abandon to this ruthlessly disciplined performance. Her approach softened as she led a New Orleans-style second line out to Daddy Lessons, the choreography became looser and jazzier and a gospelly a capella Love On Top elicited a chirpy, carefree singalong.
Crazy In Love began as a slowburn study in red rubber before the whole place erupted at the sound of that irresistible Chi-lites sample. But she reserved her most soulful performance for Freedom, performed in front of a list of black victims of police shootings, updated to include the latest fatalities, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, while her dancers symbolically waded in the water. This was duly followed by notes of stern/sweet optimism in Survivor and End of Time before she took a final moment to commune with her subjects on a solo Halo.