Beyoncé’s Mrs Carter World Tour at The 02, Dublin, 8th March 2014
Thunderous drums ripple through the 02 as the lights are cut and darkness falls for the first night of Beyoncé’s sold out run in Dublin. An enormous black sheet with the pink, bold letters spelling out ‘BEYONCE’ is whisked into the rafters and a screen the width of the stage is lowered. Visuals show Beyoncé assuming the role of the White Queen, walking towards her throne through a pure white, eerie, regal setting. Choral music and operatic warbles play in the background, heightening the anticipation.
After the visual teaser, Beyoncé is raised from below the stage and her entrance is welcomed by roars, fireworks and flames. “Dublin, Ireland, are y’all ready?” she asks. She breaks into a fierce performance of Run The World; a particularly fitting start to the show on International Women’s Day. The large, all-female band accompanying Mrs Carter is divided between two large towers either side of the stage.
The words from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk introduce the next number and flicker across the screen. Beyoncé struts back onstage after a quick outfit change. She has donned a cap, check shirt and shorts with ‘Flawless’ printed on her ass. “I woke up like this, god damn, god damn, god daaamn,” she raps and squeals. Her backing dancers are phenomenal and the routine has a combative feel to match the aggressive beat. It’s dynamic, feisty and in-your-face.
The screen is raised and lowered throughout the concert and plays a prominent role for Baby Boy, Diva, Naughty Girl and Blow. The visuals for these songs are a multicoloured, patterned extravaganza and there is a warm, disco feel to this section of the set. The combination of old classics and new favourites from the fifth album is pleasing mixture.
The level of production involved in the show is outstanding, particularly in Partition as Beyoncé and her dancers re-enact the recent music video. Mrs Carter and her dancers have a powerful stage presence. Their moves are precise and confident without seeming over-rehearsed. Partition is a sexy number and ends with Beyoncé’s seductive moves on a chaise longue. The lighting creates a black silhouette against a blue spotlight as she wriggles, writhes and flicks her heels.
A grand piano is wheeled out for 1+1, and Queen B places herself on the top as the brass section leave the tower to play alongside her. This is a stunning vocal performance of the hit single with piano accompaniment.
Moving on to another tune from her last album 4, she prompts the audience to click their fingers “with sass” and sing the ‘bopbopbadah’ before belting out a powerful “Baby it’s you,” and launching into Love on Top. The dancers reappear in full body glitter outfits and bust out some old school moves; arms outreached, circular foot motions and smiles from ear to ear.
Countdown and Single Ladies maintain the energetic tempo and glitter is shot upwards into the crowd. As we veer towards the end of the set an unaccompanied surprise cover of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You has everyone a little teary-eyed, while Halo receives the most deafening sing along of the evening.
From start to finish Beyoncé and her team have created a first class arena tour. It is difficult to recall the last time that Dublin welcomed a show with this level of precision, showmanship and novel technology. Beyoncé has the finest costumes, visuals, dancers, musicians and vocalists and all elements unite to create a mind-blowing performance.
The interplay of graphics and dancers for example, harks back to Beyoncé’s infamous Billboard performance and is simply something no other artists has mastered in the same way. All members of her travelling circus seem to genuinely enjoy performing this particular set.
“Will you all remember this show in twenty years?” she asks with a big beam. In the words of the Queen herself, the show is ‘flawless’. She wraps an Irish flag around herself and says goodbye to her adoring subjects. “Please drive home safe y’all,” she says before running off stage. Thanks for the reminder Bey, we are all a bit stunned.