(Palace of Auburn Hills, MI - July 20th, 2013)
As everyone on the planet knows, Beyoncé (Giselle Knowles-Carter) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. Married to Jay-Z and a mother to boot re: Blue Ivy, a self-described "modern day feminist", Beyonce's songs are often characterized by themes of love, relationships and monogamy; as well as female sexuality and empowerment.
Beyoncé's opener, newcomer Luke James came onstage bang on 8.00pm and held the crowd in his hand from the off. During his 30 minute set he not only gave us his two debut singles - the Grammy Award-nominated 'I Want You' and 'I.O.U.' - but charm and moves that combined were enough to take the Beyonce fans' minds of the fact she wasn't on stage yet! Well, that and the fact he got them all to spell out his name several times!
But when she did take the stage, OMG - the noise levels nearly blew the roof off the building! In front of a sold-out 12,000 strong audience of her devoted fans, those enduring comparisons to entertainers such as Tina Turner, Prince and Michael Jackson ensured some highly dynamic, incredibly choreographed performances come to the fore.
Having publicly attended a Trayvon Martin rally earlier in the day with her husband, rapper Jay-Z, in New York, here in Detroit (well, Auburn Hills, actually) Beyoncé sang for nearly two hours. As most artists seem to do now, she first gave us a quick video screen message where she informed us that she would have us all at "Hello!"
Funnily enough, that Detroit/Auburn Hills thing aside, when artists keep saying how much they "love Detroit" whilst on stage it fast becomes faux. But here tonight, after she has said it three or four times, hearing her say "I love this city" actually felt 100% genuine and heartfelt.
Oh, and add to that Beyoncé's incredible, spiritual-even version of the Sam Cooke track 'A Change Is Gonna Come' being accompanied by a Detroit video montage that included such "D" notables as Kid Rock, Eminem, Bob Seger, various Motown singers, and even the White Stripes and boxer Joe Louis and even before the video ended with the words "Nothing Stops Detroit!" you had this feeling she was one of us.
To name each and every one of the 22 songs performed on this wonderful Mrs. Carter Show would be a task, so allow me to just throw some highlights and snippets at you here. The only true stand-out solo singer from the Destiny's Child bandwagon, her set of songs - noticeably drawn primarily from both I Am ... Sasha Fierce and 4 — all came accompanied by OTT and yet precise ensemble choreography, high-concept video moments, and even endless pyrotechnics. And, of course, around ten costume changes!
With the 11-member all-female Suga Mama Band behind her at all times, their sound combined with around ten primarily-female dancers allowed Beyoncé to confidently take center stage. 'Run the World (Girls),' a funky 'End of Time,' a softer 'Flaws and All,' and a bit later the inspired blending of 'If I Were a Boy' with The Verve's 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' were delicious to hear and see live.
And yes, there was some OTT sexuality on display. Non more so than when Beyoncé began to writhe on top of a grand piano during '1+1.' But (for me) it's when she "appeared" through en masse of glitter onto a second (smaller) stage set up near the rear of The Palace floor for three songs that had me clapping loud and hard. Singing a pounding 'Love On Top' and the only DC track tonight 'Survivor,' she returned back to the main stage and brought things to a powerful end with pulsating 'Crazy In Love,' 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)' (that also included, unless I'm going senile, a touch of 'Movin' On Up' from The Jeffersons TV show theme!), and 'Grown Woman.'
The a capella openings of 'Get Me Bodied' mixed with some Whitney Houston in the form of 'I Will Always Love You' before the encore (accompanied by a shower of gold confetti!) of 'Halo' was totally worth the entrance fee (had I actually paid!). And even guitarist Bibi McGill got spotlighted with the mix of 'Freakum Dress' and 'I Care.' And with a Beyoncé audio message informing us all that at the end of her days she hoped to be able to say "I was here. I did. I've done," one has to say that as far as that goes, Beyoncé is most certainly well on track already.
Review By: Russell A. Trunk