Beyoncé Toyota Center July 15, 2013
Beyoncé is on another level, and this is something we take for granted. It's easy to forget with this current crop of pop divas just how long she's been around: "Crazy In Love" hit No. 1 in 2003 back when Lady Gaga was only 17, Taylor Swift only 13.
But her greatness is not in longevity but in pure talent. Watching her onstage is watching a master at work: it almost becomes mundane because it looks too easy.
What's scary is not that someone this gifted exists -- we all know and understand that there are exceptionally talented folks out there. What's scary is that Beyoncé knows just how talented she is.
Monday night Beyoncé came home to Houston, and much like the woman herself, it was on another level.
The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour isn't held together by silly narratives, giant sets or lavish costumes. It's a show that is full of spectacle- fire, confetti, and fireworks all make appearances, not to mention that part where she flies above the audience- but it never feels like the spectacle is a crutch. Anything that exists in the show, from the stage setup, to the structure of the show, to the selection of the songs, exists to remind everyone that Beyoncé is not just a star, she's the star.
It's a refreshing change from shows where elaborate costuming and dance routines feel like they exist to fill space rather than enhance the music.
It's not that Beyoncé puts on a show that's vastly different from most modern pop artists. She plays in the tropes of the standard pop show- there are dancers and dance routines, band members get solos, did I mention the thing where she flies above the audience?- but at the same time she's also not afraid to stand out at the front of the stage on her own with a mic and tear the house down with her vocals.
It's a confidence that's lacking in the world of pop right now.
But why not be confident? "Single Ladies" still kills when it comes on. "Crazy In Love" still sounds amazing nyears later. She's got an incredible body of work, and even the newer stuff from 4 is great live.
And then there's "Bow Down." That song hit like a bomb. Watching Beyoncé go hard in her hometown was damn near magical.
Then, at the end, right before she went in to the wonder known as "Halo," the stage went dark, and out of that dark came her voice, singing a familiar song that wasn't hers. It didn't take long for it to register that she was singing "I Will Always Love You."
It's not one of those songs you just casually break out. It would probably drive most singers to a panic.
But she's Beyoncé, so of course she's fearless.
We may take her granted, but make no mistake, Houston: we're lucky she's ours.
Personal Bias: For what it's worth, I've never seen the "Single Ladies" video, and the most I marked out during the show was when the beat from "Clique" came on in the middle of the set.
The Crowd: Girls in dresses and skirts, men in fancy hats and ties, a man not afraid to do the "Harlem Shake" by himself, and more black and white stripes than I've seen in my life. Not sure when this became a thing, but I was glad I was wearing a Beetlejuice shirt so that I vaguely fit in.
Overheard In the Crowd: "It looks like Forever 21 threw up out here," said my +1. She makes a good point -- there were a lot of people at the show who have probably listened to Kanye's "Bound 2" and thought that "rock Forever 21 but just turned 30" line hit too close to home.
Random Notebook Dump: Prior to the show I had never heard "Wobble" before, and when it came during the break between the opener and Beyoncé it was out-freaking-standing. I've never seen that many people just get up and dance before. Do we finally have a "Cupid Shuffle" of our own?
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So How Was The Opener? Luke James can sing and he doesn't look too bad without a shirt on. Of course, he had trouble ripping his shirt off, and that's weird since that was the big moment of his set. I don't know if he'll ever be a major star, but he's got the tools, he just needs to watch some more Hulk Hogan videos first.