Beyoncé At Staples Center
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By Kiana Butler
As I stood in one of several lines wrapped around Staples Center on July 1, my friend Kourtney turned to me and jokingly whispered, "Beyoncé isn't human." Even though she had already witnessed what I was about to see during the launch of Beyoncé's North American Mrs. Carter Show World Tour on June 28, I dismissed my friend's forewarning as hyperbole. However, it didn't take long for me to understand why someone would walk away from the 17-time GRAMMY winner's two-hour set convinced that what they saw was unbelievable.
The fanfare began when the lights dimmed causing the sold-out crowd to roar in anticipation. The first image of Mrs. Carter appeared in a video projected on a large screen, one of several video sequences intertwined throughout the show. On screen Beyoncé, adorned in white makeup and gown, walks through an elaborate castle as her loyal subjects trot behind. They hand her a crown before appearing to walk out of the video and onstage, followed by Queen B herself, who welcomed us into her beehive with "Run The World (Girls)."
Backed by a crew of dancers and her 11-piece all-female band, including soulful trio the Mamas, Beyoncé quickly belted out "End Of Time" and "Flaws And All," the latter of which seemed ironic coming from a performer who's aspiring — and arguably meeting the challenge — to provide a show rivaled only by greats such as Michael Jackson and Tina Turner.
Dressed in all-black, Beyoncé strutted through the bravado-filled "If I Were A Boy," eliciting a squeal from the 10-year-old girl sitting two seats down who admitted the song was her favorite. My favorite moment came soon after when Bey started up her 2003 chart-topper "Baby Boy." She whipped her hips to the dancehall track in front of a white screen as her silhouette bounced in perfect harmony with her dancers.
Complicated choreography is clearly as important to a Beyoncé show as her vocals. She popped, dropped and grinded through most of her songs, including "Get Me Bodied" and "Diva." But the crown for best dancers belonged to the "only gentlemen on the tour" (according to Beyoncé), identical twin brothers Laurent and Larry Bourgeois, who managed to command my attention even as their boss broke a sweat nearby.
But it's hard to keep your eyes off Beyoncé for long. At one point we were forced to literally look up as she zip-lined through the air and landed on a smaller stage in the middle of the arena. Dressed in a glittery-blue jumpsuit, she touched the outstretched hands of screaming fans and allowed a lucky few to sing along with her to hits such as "Irreplaceable," "Love On Top" and the Destiny's Child staple "Survivor."
Another highlight was an extended version of "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," which was mixed with a clever twist of "Movin' On Up" ("The Jeffersons" theme song) and a New Orleans-style second line. African tribal imagery soon filled the screen during "Grown Woman," the only new song she performed from her anticipated album reportedly set for release later this year.
The booming drums of "Grown Woman" was a stark contrast to the final performance of the night — a poignant a cappella snippet of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," which effortlessly transitioned into "Halo." Compared to the rest of the show, Beyoncé was markedly subdued as she delivered the ballad, but the mellow vibe allowed her strong voice to shine. As she claimed to see our halos, I was reminded of my friend's earlier proclamation: "Beyoncé isn't human." At that point I didn't actually need to see Queen B's halo to agree.
To catch Beyoncé in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"Run The World (Girls)"
"End Of Time"
"Flaws And All"
"If I Were A Boy"
"Get Me Bodied"
"I Miss You"
"Why Don't You Love Me"
"Love On Top"
"Survivor" (Destiny's Child)
"Crazy In Love" (recorded with Jay-Z)
"Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)"
"I Will Always Love You" (Whitney Houston cover)