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Beyoncé kicked off her Formation Tour last night at Miami’s Marlins Park baseball stadium, the first show in a sold-out stadium tour. Having just dropped her surprise visual album Lemonade on HBO Saturday night, as well as the accompanying sixth studio album on Tidal and iTunes, fans were eager to see how the new, vulnerable Beyoncé would appear on stage. In a word, she slayed.
Opener DJ Khaled didn’t let a little thing like a half-empty stadium kill his vibe. With only a 30-minute set, Khaled packed in appearances from Lil Wayne, Future, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Yo Gotti and Trick Daddy.
After DJ Khaled’s set ended promptly at 8 p.m., fans had a few false starts when the three story rectangular cube on the centre of the stage began playing videos of Beyoncé. Finally at 8:45, the real show started with Beyoncé and her all-female dance crew appearing in their black lace bodysuits and wide brimmed flat top hats for the opening number.
The evening was a mix of old and new, with Beyoncé kicking off the show with her socially charged single “Formation”, then moving into the controversial “Sorry” (the Becky line was of course greeted with a raucous response), followed by favourites “Flawless” and “Run The World”.
Although Lemonade may at first listen be a 180 from its predecessors, Beyoncé was still able to seamlessly blend the old and the new, combining 2002’s “Baby Boy” with 2016’s “Hold Up”. Singles from Beyoncé’s first few years as a solo performer have aged well, with the singer visiting her back catalogue for “Party”, “Single Ladies”, and sampling the famous Eurythmics track of the same name for 2008’s “Sweet Dreams”.
Combining her drawn out and seductive 50 Shades of Grey recording of “Crazy In Love” with the original upbeat pop track that cemented Beyoncé as a solo artist in 2003, the Houston native displayed her musicality by remixing her well-known singles. “Ring The Alarm” was rapped as Beyoncé literally sat on her throne, while the self-love ballad “Me, Myself And I” was slowed down even more to allow Beyoncé to simultaneously catch her breath during her dance-heavy show while showing off her famous pipes. Because let’s not forget, when Beyoncé takes a rest, she’s still freaking Beyoncé.
After announcing that her Destiny’s Child band mate Michelle Williams had surprised her at the arena prior to the show, fans were hoping Williams would make an appearance during “Independent Woman”, “Survivor”, “Nasty Girl” or “Bootylicious”. The same could be said for “Drunk In Love”, with pictures surfacing yesterday of Jay Z backstage during rehearsals. While enjoying the same level of A-list superstardom, let’s remember that although Beyoncé is many things, Taylor Swift is not one of them. The 34-year-old performer commands her stage as the only vocalist, ensuring that crowds in every city will see the exact same Formation Tour as the Miami fans on opening night.
Looking visibly moved throughout the show at the sea of adoration flowing back at her, Beyoncé was genuine in the reciprocation of love she vocalized throughout the night to her fans. One of the evening’s highlights took place when two previously selected fans were brought on stage to do the “Single Ladies” dance with Beyoncé and two of her back up dancers. Unable to contain her excitement at seeing how well the two fans performed, Beyoncé took a step back for the first time that evening and simply enjoyed the show. Even Bey knows that if you can’t be Beyoncé, it’s pretty cool to get to pretend for a few moments.
And for "Single Ladies," she brings up two fans and it's now just an insane no-men-allowed dance party pic.twitter.com/jgZagapEML
— Emily Blake (@emilymarieblake) April 28, 2016
The show featured seven costume changes for Beyoncé and her dancers, with scenes from Lemonade filling the off-stage gaps albeit for one interlude, which featured the giant rotating cube turning purple as Prince’s “Purple Rain” played over the loudspeaker. There were acrobats hanging from satin ribbons and bars, fireworks shooting in the air and flames exploding from the stage, but even with with these theatrics interspersed throughout the evening, the Formation Tour was essentially a traditional sing-and-dance-your-butt off show. It was also easily one of the most entertaining tours in years. The final and most dramatic visual element of the show was a pool erected at the end of the runway stage for the last three numbers, which gave nearby fans a shower thanks to the intense and stunning choreography performed by Beyoncé and her dancers. Never faltering in either her vocals or intricate dance moves, Beyoncé’s performance throughout was a testament to a life spent preparing for this very moment.
If fans were hoping that last night’s debut of the Formation Tour would clear up the infidelity subject matter that comprised most of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, they were out of luck. The singer took time before her performance of “Me, Myself And I” to urge her Beyhive to not rely on another person for their own happiness and instead make yourself happy, a message that while is both positive and inspiring could also be picked apart as a shot at Jay Z. On the flip side, Beyoncé ended the concert with a performance of “Halo” dedicated to her beautiful husband, who she loves so much. In typical fashion for the notoriously guarded performer, Beyoncé’s marital status is still somewhat unclear.
What is clear is that Beyoncé has released an album more experimental, groundbreaking, raw, vulnerable, and inspiring than anything we’ve ever heard from the superstar, with a breath-taking tour to match. What is also clear is that her marriage has been, remains, and will continue to be none of our business. We at least owe that to a woman who has given us so much.
“Run the World”
“Me, Myself and I”
“Let It Be”
“Ring the Alarm”
“Naughty Girl/Independent Woman/Diva”
“Drunk in Love”
“Crazy in Love/Bootylicious”
“Blow / Nasty Girl”
“End of Time/Grown Woman”