- Mark Savage
- BBC music reporter
For nearly a year, Beyoncé fans have been craving the visuals of her seventh album, Renaissance.
It’s an unusual move for a star whose visual aesthetic has always been intertwined with her music.
From the bubblegum-star-making videos of Crazy In Love to the multilayered explorations of infidelity and black femininity on visual album Lemonade, she’s always used fashion and imagery to enhance her songs.
So all eyes are on her new world tour. How would she portray Renaissance’s adventurous exploration of marginalized black and queer club music on stage?
So, as the lights dimmed and the stadium-wide giant video screens filled with sky-blue images, the audience, which included Dua Lipa, Frank Ocean, Kris Jenner and Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z, was equally excited and anticipating.
What she unveils is a dizzying interstellar explosion…a disco ball ride featuring 34 songs, a flying horse, multiple dance duels, and choreographed robots, all set to Renaissance Club rhythms. The pulsating heartbeat is closely related.
But before that, Beyoncé caught everyone off guard.
She opens with four piano ballads from the early days of her career—and they’re not even big hits like “Halo” or “Irreplaceable.”
Instead, the episode opens with Dangerously In Love, a Destiny Child song that was adapted as the title track from her first solo album, and continues with deep cuts like 1+1 and Flaws And All.
Tina Turner Tribute
Sure, it’s a tease, but it also serves as a Las Vegas-style overture. Beyoncé was free to walk onstage, chat with fans and read their catchphrases before the more demanding, choreographed track that followed. “It’s your birthday!” she announced. “I love you!”
“I want you to allow me to sing one of my favorite songs,” she said, introducing a slow gospel version of Turner’s “River Deep and Mountain High.”
“We love you, Tina,” she added, casting her gaze skyward.
However, it wasn’t long before the introduction was over. The video screen shows a pair of orbiting suns and tells us that the Beyoncé we just saw is no longer there. She’s been reborn, rewired and transformed into a chrome disco diva from another galaxy. Alien superstar.
She emerges encased in metal, robotic arms slowly stripping away her armor as she performs the renaissance opening line, I’m the Girl.
From here, we’re caught up in pop spectacle as the star kicks off her career with the album’s 16-strong tracklist and reinvents some of her classic songs in its image.
Three of the Renaissance’s best songs (Cuff It, Energy and Break My Soul) are intact, turning Tottenham Stadium into a giant nightclub.
Arms flailed and drinks spilled as Beyoncé and her dancers merrily made their way across the circular catwalk to the center of the audience, the star wore an iridescent David Koma bodysuit with Matching knee boots.
blue ivy look
The atmosphere intensified with a string of hard-hitting hits including Formation and Black Parade.
Here, Beyoncé performs on a giant silver tank while her 11-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, leads a dance troupe to the front of the stage.
It was only her second time on stage, but she was as cool as a cucumber, walking in step with the pros in front of a crowd of 60,000.
As the crowd broke into applause, Beyoncé responded with a radiant, motherly smile — a rare glimpse into the secret behind her impeccable perfectionism.
As the concert moved into soul and R&B, Beyoncé showed off some impressive jazz vocals in plastic on the couch.
She then puts the audience in control of an ebullient Love On Top—leading them a cappella for the final four choruses, key changes, and more—before announcing, “I’ve got to be there to stop you, or you’ll be up all night.”
But the star claims her favorite song is the sweaty, hedonistic club anthem “Heated,” which culminates in a feverish rap aimed at her detractors.
“Sometimes I mess up the words, so you all have to help me,” she tells us, apparently not realizing that everyone can see the automated prompts that have been feeding her lyrics throughout the show.
However, this is not a criticism. There’s a lot to remember about this jaw-dropping performance, with nearly every song referencing another element from Beyoncé’s catalog. Virgo’s Groove’s irresistible electro-funk, for example, incorporates elements from seven other songs, including Naughty Girl and Destiny’s Child classic Say My Name.
Elsewhere, Beyoncé paid homage to Madonna’s Vogue, Kendrick Lamar’s Alright and the Jacksons’ Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground).
It’s a minimalist love letter to dance music that never feels forced or awkward.
The stage also takes that more-is-more approach necessary for stadium concerts.
At various moments, Beyoncé has featured Botticelli’s Venus in a clamshell, Athena rocketing through space, a human avatar in a stained glass window, and a giant bee (a nod to her nickname, Queen Bey). Greetings) appear.
There were also dancers jumping out of the stage like opening boxes, a small caravan-sized ball of glitter, lots of glitter, and – for the finale – Beyoncé soaring around the stadium on a giant silver horse to Studio 54’s Sincerely, Bianca Jagger.
It’s wonderfully silly self-indulgence, and it might disappoint those who come looking for the kind of sociopolitical commentary Beyoncé made on her album “Lemonade” and subsequent Coachella performance ( The Lemonade song is obviously not on this playlist).
But there’s a deeper message beneath the surface—self-acceptance, tolerance, and unfettered expectations.
When viewers arrived, video screens showed what appeared to be a TV test signal, but were actually the colors of the Progress Pride flag.
At the end of the show, Beyoncé’s mother, Tina, was pictured on the same screen with her “godmother,” her late uncle Jonny, an HIV-positive gay man who offered to Beyoncé introduces most of the musical renaissance on the show (as well as designing some of her early outfits).
During that time, the show was narrated by legendary commentator Kevin JZ Prodigy, paying homage to the dancehall subculture that originated in New York’s black and Latino LGBTQ communities; while Beyoncé sang about quitting her job and diving headlong into the fun (she allows herself to imagine it about once a day, right after breakfast and before jumping into a well-timed dance break).
It all adds up to a message of acceptance and joy. The joy of being yourself, the joy of dancing, the joy of letting go, the joy of being together.
Maybe that’s why she saves the visuals for the tour: it’s a record that needs to be experienced with other people in real life.
And Beyoncé. On a shining horse.
list of settings
- dangerously in love
- flaws and all
- 1+1 / I’m Goin Down (Mary J. Blige cover)
- I care
- The River is Deep and the Mountain is High (Tina Turner cover)
- i am that girl
- alien superstar
- cuff it
- Break My Soul/Break My Soul (Queen Mix)
- girl who ran the world)
- my power
- black parade
- Barbarian (Remix)
- church girl
- make me strong
- before i let go
- would rather die young
- over love
- crazy Love
- green light
- Love Hangover (Diana Ross cover by The House Band)
- plastic sofa
- Virgo Groove / Naughty Girl
- America has a problem
- summer renaissance