“Ladies and gentlemen. Are you ready to be entertained!?” boomed Beyoncé Knowles, who looked captivating in her silvery dress that sparkled like the pyrotechnics blasting behind her. Backed by a formidable 11-piece, all-female band, Beyoncé delivered way more than just entertainment to the sold-out Honda Center in Anaheim. She gave us the musical brilliance of “The Beyoncé Experience” (the name for her live show). Oh and trust me, the 11-piece band helped. If Beyoncé wasn’t onstage performing her heart out, she gave her band and dancers each individual time to play and dance to showcase their best, while she was changing into one of her six dresses.
Beyoncé courageously got the party started with her first solo smash, “Crazy In Love” (usually a predictable closer at her concerts), which in an act of musical genius she showed throughout the night, put Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” into the mix. As someone who has gone to a Beyoncé concert before, I knew this would turn out to be her most creative and convincing show because she wasn’t just showing her skills as a vocalist and a dancer, but as an artist too.
Displaying exceptional stamina throughout the night, Beyoncé jumped into her famous club bangers like “Freekum Dress,” “Green Light,” “Upgrade U” and “Get Me Bodied” with vocal precision, never missing a beat and never falling over any steps YouTubers! In a club favorite like “Get Me Bodied,” Beyoncé emerged from what seemed like a robotic bee! One moment she was wildly waving her long mane of hair, and in another she busting smooth moves reminiscent of Prince, and yes just like him, in heels! Everyone else around me was transfixed.
The show encouraged women in the audience to show their excitement in a different way. When Beyoncé performed the rowdy dance number “Ring the Alarm”—a song in which she sings from the point of view of a woman who is pissed that her man is giving his attention to another woman, she had all the women—teenage and middle-age alike—pumping their fists in the air.
Beyoncé showed off her versatility when she spliced “Murder She Wrote” into a steamy “Baby Boy” that made women with their boyfriends cling to their men. The same effect took place when she integrated intense belly dancing into the worldwide smash “Beautiful Liar.” In a medley of Destiny’s Child’s biggest hits, Beyoncé went in and out of the songs’ usual tempos, showcasing an insanely rhythmic voice. The most startling musical variation was the church-like soul she added to “Me, Myself & I.” This showcased her defiance against the perception of her as, “the sassy sex pot” instead of what she proved Saturday night—that she has more of Aretha Franklin’s vocal finesse than any of her counterparts.
So “The Beyoncé Experience” is probably a celebration of Beyoncé’s newfound courage as a singer. In ballads like “Dangerously In Love,” “Flaws & All” and “Listen,” the emotion in Beyoncé’s voice was clear. It was when she performed these ballads that I realized Beyoncé is probably the closest our generation has to a quintessential entertainer right now. She sings and dances to perfection and can act well. In “Flaws & All” she showcased pipes that could hold a 15-second note (some crazed fan was counting behind me) and held back tears at the same time. I admit I have been a crazed enough fan to notice that Beyonce has either been holding back tears or crying at every concert she’s had (courtesy of YouTube). So was she acting? That answer doesn’t matter because Beyoncé made a connection with her audience. Across from me, a girl had tears in her eyes (unfortunately this sight made me more amused than anything).
Ironically, the best moment (comically and musically) came when Beyonce let her fans sing most of her final song, “Irreplaceable.” When you listen to the recording of the song, you get a sassy kiss-off that men perceive as a tirade and women perceive as an anthem. But when Beyonce sings the bridge live, the audience got something different: inspiration. By the time it was time for the song’s famous “to the left, the left” all of the 18,000 men and women were waving their hands to the left. The show is called “The Beyoncé Experience” for a couple of simple reasons; for one it’s just worth experiencing. Secondly, if you want to get the full impact of Beyonce as artist you have to be there, LIVE, witnessing it all, because unlike most of her peers, manufactured sounds don’t do her justice.