After her show tour of 102 concerts following the release of I am … Sasha Fierce in 2009, it would be fair to say that Beyoncé had set herself a bar so high that even she, ‘Queen Bey’ would find difficult to vault. Since then, fans had been holding their breaths for the announcement of her next world tour, especially since marriage and motherhood had inevitably postponed the announcement after the release of 4, her most recently released studio album nearly two years ago. Upon the announcement of The Mrs Carter Show World Tour there were some high expectations, which were largely fulfilled via an intense, smash-hit-after-smash-hit two hour ride of all out production genius, raising the standard of what an A-list world tour should provide.
After waving off the almost unknown support choice of Luke James, and a slew of products plugged by Beyoncé herself (does she really drink Pepsi?) a huge backwards B banner climactically dropped, signalling immediately that this production was to be as regal and melodramatic as the O2 ad in the run up to the tour had suggested. An effective short introductory sequence gave way to the feminist-inspired romp-hit, Run The World (Girls), where Beyoncé introduced her all female band and dancers, excluding the talented Les Twins, who choreographically (and symmetrically) complimented her throughout the entire night. End Of Time was swiftly followed by the older Baby Boy, one of a number of her older hits that fans were rewarded by throughout the performance. During set piece changes (of which there were a fair few), the 20,000 odd audience was distracted with a serious of VT’s, including her inauguration performance and clips of Blue Ivy, which, overlaid by voiceovers from Beyoncé herself about leaving a mark, were genuinely emotional and insightful. They also acted as effective lead-ins to some fan favourites, such as the Destiny’s Child hit Crazy In Love and a Verve Bittersweet Symphony-sampling If I Was A Boy.
Later highlights included a cheeky performance of the brash Why Don’t You Love Me? which eventually subsided into 1+1, involving Beyoncé literally flying over the crowd through a slew of falling confetti to a centre stage, where she met fans (admittedly the ones who paid for VIP packages). This highlighted the true quality of the overall production, one of a number of feats involving dramatic smoke/fire combinations, wind machines and uncountable costume changes, each of which were memorable and visually stunning. The performance rounded off to a relatively low key, respectful rendition of Whitney’s I Will Always Love You, which blended into the well-known final number, Halo, both of which showed off Beyoncé’s true vocal talent.
It was clearly evident that Beyoncé, as well as her support, had given all that she had by time the final curtain fell, leaving the stage slightly croaky voiced and tired-looking after a solid two hour performance that fewer and fewer artists today would be willing to give. The Mrs. Carter Show was a stunningly choreographed, appropriately huge affair that achieved what initially seemed difficult: effectively fulfilling the inevitable hype created when the tour of any huge celebrity roles into town. At moments it reached dizzying heights through its set pieces, effective song placing and genuine feverish excitement and confidence that only Beyoncé’s full repertoire could inspire. Fans will be sure to remember this one for a long while yet.