Beyonce Toyota Center July 15, 2013
Last night, amid the glitter cannons, wobbling, half-naked backup dancers, and umpteen costume changes, Beyonce did the unthinkable: she willingly wobbled her underarm. That's right; sporting a wicked little grin, Queen Bey reached up -- while belting out lyrics about all of her imperfections, no less -- grabbed her underarm, and jiggled a bit of the excess.
Bow down, bitches. That's how this diva shit is done.
It was that type of humanity, not the stage sets or the thousands of rhinestones sacrificed in the name of divadom, that set the Mrs. Carter Show apart from the other enormous pop acts that have hit the stage this summer. Despite that untouchable reputation and blatant wariness of the public's perceptions, Mrs. Carter comes off in concert as being, dare I say, likable.
Adding a bit of humanity to that megastar status seems like it would be a tricky equation, given that by the time that wicked little arm-jiggle happened, she'd set the stage on fire twice while flanked by eight backup dancers, a full horn section, a rockin' chick drummer, three backup vocalists, and a myriad of other stage necessities.
Fortunately for her hive (and me), Queen Bey showed a bit of herself, the one that's beneath the wired skirts and never ending headlines, with ease. Props be damned, Bey is still just a girl from Houston -- albeit just one with a giant voice and two stages -- thankyouverymuch.
And a giant voice she's got. Whoever started that whole backing track rumor can rest at ease; Bey can belt out a note with the best of them, sans any sort of digital support, and she can do so for a massive 24-song set, which is what the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour is clocking in at right now. Twenty-four damn songs. I'd be dead from a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Not Bey, though. She made it clear that after all these years, this is her bag, baby. She pranced -- yes, pranced -- across the stage, belting out hit after hit without ever being off key. No, really.
She bounced from a refreshing "If I Were a Boy"/"Bittersweet Symphony" mashup to a seizure-inducing rendition of "Baby Boy" without ever sounding breathless, all while keeping up with those energetic, semi-twerking backup dancers on every move. I was exhausted, and Queen Bey was just getting started.
And in a move that damn near rivaled the arm-jiggle in badassness, Bey's screens dropped the cover art for "Bow Down/I Been On" and my damn jaw dropped along with them. Yup, she did it. She played a healthy portion of that little ditty, and my Grinch heart grew three times that day. As far as I know, Bey hasn't dared play this semi-controversial song in other cities, but she did it for H-town. I said it above and I'll say it again: bow down, bitches. H-H-town, bitches. Bey was home.
As the night -- and that exhaustive set list continued -- it was apparent that not only is Bey still just a Houston girl, she's also a Houston girl with quite a bit to prove to the naysayers. She's confident, magnanimously talented, a little bit real, and she's got some mouths to close before this tour is up.
Beyonce and company ran through every single hit she's had, with a set list that bordered on a test in human resiliency, but by the end of the night, there was no question as to who the reigning pop icon is. Gaga ain't got nothin' on Bey.
She bounced, wiggled, and sexed the hell up an already-sexy "Naughty Girl," complete with a peepshow courtesy of her backup dancers and their taut bums from behind the screens. She put her "Freakum Dress" on and belted out lyrics that bounced off the walls of the Toyota Center, flanked by The Mamas, her backup vocalists. She put her "Love on Top," was "Crazy in Love," and yes, even part "Single Lady."
The crowd couldn't get enough. I'm not sure how her voice wasn't on the damn floor, but it wasn't.
And then, amidst little fanfare, Beyonce took the stage and pulled off a friggin' Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston cover of "I Will Always Love You." There aren't many folks who can do that song much justice, but I'll be damned if Bey didn't.
Yes, Bey. That arm-wigglin', jelly jigglin' little H-town girl deserves the throne she sits on, and after last night's show, her throne, still covered in rhinestones and sparks, is just a bit more accessible to the fans who have grown up right beside her.
Beyonce, as large as her voice is, is every bit of the city she grew up in, and damn, she's done us proud.
Personal Bias: It seems I've written about Beyonce at least 458 times this year, so I don't know where Beyonce's glitter ends and mine begins at this point.
The Crowd: I've never seen so much underbooty on anyone -- male or female -- as I saw last night. Wowooooowowowow. Underbutt really is the new underboob. I'll be damned.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I wish someone would just walk past me and throw lye in my eyes to blind me. I've had enough."
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Random Notebook Dump: As macho as Cory may seem in his review, I have a little secret I'd like to tell: I totally caught him dancing once, and it may have been to "Single Ladies." Busted, homie.