(Seen at Los Angeles’ Staples Center)
There are few true “Divas” left touring nowadays.
You have your Madonna and your Britney… you can head to Vegas to catch Bette or Cher… but there are certainly few newcomers on the block.
With her tour in support of her latest double-disc, “I Am… Sasha Fierce,” Beyonce can officially classify herself as one of the great powerful female solo touring acts around today. For her latest on stage concoction, Ms. Knowles truly has enough material in her catalog to justify her pick of hits. But unlike the latter two mentioned artists, she is positioned at a point in her career to give fans everything that they’re craving and more. The result is a concert in which one leaves feeling truly entertained and satisfied by a triple-threat performer, equally strong in song, dance and performance.
Opening with a couple of lines from the lead track on her 2006 “Deja Vu” album, Beyonce launches immediately into her first solo hit, “Crazy In Love,” exploding on the stage with enough energy to rock even the septuagenarians in the media section out of their seats. From there onwards, her two-hour plus show is a veritable journey of one strong song after another. An all-female band accompanies her on stage, along with background singers The Mamas, and four male and four female dancers.
In addition to all of the hits from her first three albums, Beyonce covers some others’ songs, ranging from Jon McLaughlin (“Smash Into You”) to Sarah MacLachlan (“Angel”); she even segways seamlessly in and at one point from her version of “Ave Maria” into Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” and right back into the former ballad. The concept seems impossible – the execution is flawless.
Midway through her show, after walking suspended through the air above the crowd to a platform in the middle of the stage, Beyonce runs through a medley of hits from her former girl group, Destiny’s Child – standouts include her remixed versions of “Check On It,” “Say My Name” and “Survivor.” In the same section, she throws in a stripped-down call-and-repeat version of “Irreplaceable.”
One particular stand out section of the show involves her dancers dressed like robots sporting retro-future outfits, emerging with old-school boomboxes honoring her new single, “Radio.” On the large screen in the background, images appeared of Beyonce as a young girl (with what seemed to be best friend Kelly Rowland) on their way to their first Michael Jackson concert; dancing and singing, interspersed with a camera focused on the current diva on stage. The visual juxtaposition is compelling and works effectively for the crowd, creating a connecting dream between her youthful ambitions and her ability to have achieved them.
The show ends with her the two biggest hits. First, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” is portrayed through the YouTube phenomenon of fans imitating the now famous dance (originally conceived by Gwen Verndon) displayed in a remix on the screen behind. There was nary a body in the house not dancing along.
Closing song “Halo” turned into a homage to Michael Jackson (“Michael I can feel your halo… you know you’re my saving grace”). And the diva’s tears seen on the jumbotron were real. Beyonce spends most of the song walking through the front aisles, touching fans’ hands, and allowing them to sing lines to the song along with her.
At the end of the show during her goodbyes… Beyonce repeats, “I Am …” three times, slowly; and one expects by the third refrain that she will end the phrase with “… Sasha Fierce.”
Instead she ends with, “… Yours.”
“I Am… Yours.”
And with that, for her fans, on this night… she truly was.