According to the Spanish press, Beyoncé is a goddess, which, at this point in her 30 years career, is a rather irrefutable claim. Yet the artist is proving her status once again via her 56-date Renaissance World Tour, which arrives in the U.S. on July 12.
"Beyoncé isn't a human, isn't divine, she's something much more powerful," Spanish publication El Confidencial proclaimed after her June 8 date in Barcelona, her eighth tour stop.
I can't really argue with these claims, likely scribbled furiously by some of the men sitting near me inside Barcelona's Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium. There, the pop diva brought her GRAMMY-winning RENAISSANCE album — which celebrates queer Black culture, house music and disco — to life in a show that also samples from her rich catalog.
Yet the humanity behind the most-decorated GRAMMY winner could be felt acutely throughout: when she'd shout out to the audience, or when she gave the floor to her daughter Blue Ivy or her incredible dance crew, and in the simple act of hearing her unparalleled voice in person.
It's impossible to attend this stellar show — a two-and-a-half-hour work of art — and not attempt to calculate all the work and care that Beyoncé and her team put into executing a live celebration of RENAISSANCE and her wider catalog. One of the writers in my midst looked like he was performing calculus to determine how the hell Queen Bey brought so much magic on stage.
Beyoncé will launch the North American leg of her tour in July in Toronto. If you are lucky enough to score a ticket, you’re in for a treat; the performance features a runway show of iconic looks (which change nightly), an energetic setlist brought to life by a large, stellar live band, and a ballroom performance. The show has been executed flawlessly of course, but by the time Queen Bey and her crew bring it to the U.S., they’ll have put in hours and hours of practice for what will undoubtedly make for a heavenly event.
Read on for a lowdown of what Beyoncé served up at her record-breaking Barcelona show (the sold-out crowd of 53,000 was the largest audience for a solo female artist in Spanish history) to get a taste of what you can anticipate when she brings the energy, glitz and glam to a city near you.
Expect Uninterrupted Dance Floor Ecstasy
"My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom," Bey wrote in her announcement of the RENAISSANCE album last summer. "I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are."
She’s brought that intention fully to life with the Renaissance tour, creating collective moments to stadiums full of dancing, euphoric bodies.
The expert curation of seemingly endless looks, incredible choreography and seamless setlist filled with "remix" moments made it hard to sit down. The show is so action-packed, you'll be catching your breath if you try to track every single sample and gravity-defying dance move. Even when the queen left the stage for a costume change, her incredible dancers continued the energy and kept the eye-catching show going.
Just as the album plays like a DJ set, with each track leading directly into a juicy teaser of the next track, the stacked setlist of 40 songs is just as lively, energetic and flowing. "Samples" from across her catalog and her influences were woven into every song, offering fresh renditions of her music and a non-stop delivery of groove.
Beyoncé's voice was impeccable; her vocal range shined through the expansive set list. On tracks like "Heated," Beyoncé reminded us she’s a badass rapper who can throw down bars.
The Custom Designer Looks Are A Show In Itself
The show’s plentiful fashion moments channeled the sparkle and glam of the disco era through a Afrofuturistic, space age lens, to eye-catching effect. Expect more fresh variations of her Renaissance lookbook stateside to be revealed each night.
In Europe, Bey rotated her looks for each show, an extra special treat for fans (and surely for the fashionista herself) as she debuted new ones. Her European tour was filled with outfits from established and smaller designers — including some local brands — with Balmain, David Koma and Loewe designs aplenty. To commemorate Juneteenth at her Amsterdam show, she exclusively wore outfits by Black designers. The coordinating accessories were on-point as well; apparently, the singer brought 41 pairs of custom Jimmy Choos on the trek.
In a rather legendary moment in Barcelona, Ms. Carter returned from a costume change lounging on a gigantic golden shell as she sang "Plastic Off The Sofa." In her peak shimmery moment of the evening, she soon revealed her head-turning golden custom Loewe catsuit, covered in sparkling red-fingernailed hands. She rocked sparkly black red finger-nailed gloves and gold rhinestone booties to match. The dancers wore matte, mesh catsuits, each with their "hands" in different positions.
Other stunning ‘fits from her Barcelona show included a colorful psychedelic mesh dress by David Koma paired with rimless bedazzled space-age sunglasses. She donned a silver, red and black leather space suit from Fendi with matching thigh-high boots, silver gloves and an upcycled fur stole she added on later.
During the jaw-dropping "Mind Control" act featuring "America Has A Problem," Queen Bey channeled her nickname in a futuristic killer queen space bee look from Mugler with thigh high patent high-heeled boots and antennaed helmet. She’s served up an artsy, buzz-worthy selection of bee-inspired couture during this segment (near the end) of the show.
The BeyHive also adorned themselves in rhinestones, sequins, silver-everything, and cowboy hats and boots to pay tribute to their queen.
It’s Not Just Glitz & Glam, There’s Plenty Of Feels
Beyoncé’s 11-year-old daughter Blue Ivy also made headlines during the European tour. During the impactful The Lion King: The Gift cut "My Power," Blue stole the show and spotlight. She rocked the same red suit as the dancers, but stood out as she danced next to her mom, deftly hitting every move with power.
Kendrick Lamar's social justice anthem "Alright" was powerfully woven in with "My Power" and brought into the sonic, visual conversation, expanding the two tracks to new heights. This led to Bey’s inspiring Juneteenth 2020 track, "Black Parade" and ended with everyone on stage holding up their fists in the Black power symbol as the stadium cheered.
It's been almost a year since RENAISSANCE lead single "Break My Soul" dropped, and much has gone on in the world since. The refrain "you won't break my soul" remains a pertinent mantra, a cold glass of lemonade when things feel unbearable. And hearing the echoes of tens of thousands of voices singing it in unison felt like we could harness at least a little of Beyoncé's history-making, era-defining superpowers.
During 4 opener, "Love On Top," Beyoncé turned her mic to the crowd to amplify their voices. It felt as if the entire, 53,000-person audience — probably some of the staff too — was singing along in a moment of collective love and unity.
Bey Shares The Stage With A Collective Of Powerhouse Dancers & Musicians
Just as she brought in an impressive team of co-producers collaborators to craft RENAISSANCE, she assembled a stellar cast of dancers, singers and musicians to help bring it to life on stage. Yes, everyone doled out the big bucks to see Beyoncé perform, but she clearly and beautifully made space for everyone to shine.
According to her website, there are 23 dancers, including Blue Ivy and Les Twins — a twin brother duo and regular Bey guests who can contort into gravity-defying shapes. In addition to sharing the credits online, she also made sure to shout everyone out during her final song.
"Pure/Honey" featured a full-on ballroom moment where the dancers with real-life ball experience, including Honey Balenciaga, wowed the audience. Together, they offered full-on, tens-across-the-board-worthy ball with dips, duckwalks and so much more.
During an epic rendition of Bey and Jay-Z’s "Crazy in Love," her band got a chance to shine. The horn players came out front for their moment, and the female saxophonist got down for her solo. During the show, they served up world-class sound from an elevated silver platform.
When the star left to change after "Crazy in Love," her backup singers flawlessly sang Diana Ross' 1976 disco classic, "Love Hangover." They were serving futuristic Supremes in matching holographic silver dresses and gloves as a giant disco ball moved towards them, as if magnetized by their disco realness.
Patron Saint Beyoncé Took Us To Church
Beyoncé and her angelic voice were raised in the church, and during the show, the "Annointed" act brought her vision of worship to life, where all are welcome.
To announce the segment, lasers spelled out "Annointed" on the screen, followed by a gold and green church. In yet another breath-taking style moment (one that’s seemingly consistent throughout the tour) Queen Bey appeared in a long all-white robe-like dress. As she held her arms out in cross-form under the UV light, it was transformed into stained glass rainbow print. Japanese fashion brand Anrealage made that miracle possible.
As if her mind-blowing technicolor dreamcoat wasn't enough, Bey threw it off to reveal a shimmering Balmain silver sequin and pearl bodysuit, complete with a silver rhinestone-encrusted church hat. Her choir’s robes were also transformed by the light, but they also revealed black mesh outfits (presumably much easier to twerk in).
This extravaganza led into "Church Girl," albeit a slowed down version, which added drama and showcased her heavenly vocals. When she went into "drop it like a thotty," the music sped up and the dancers started twerking. In a similar contrast of party-heater and soulful ballad, the 2007 Swizz Beatz-co-produced heater "Get Me Bodied" led to a stunning rendition of "Before I Let Go." The act ended with an a cappella moment where one of the dancers adorably looked at the real-life goddess with pure admiration.
On "Church Girl," Beyoncé preaches her vision of spirituality — you can be sexy and have fun as a child of God. And perhaps it's exactly the dancing with abandon, shaking your troubles away, that supports your path towards righteousness.
The Flawless Production Will Leave Your Head Spinning – In A Good Way
A massive, high-definition screen that ran the width of the stage with an archway in the middle provided extra context and visuals during the show, announcing each act and adding to the set with images of disco balls, robot legs, dancers, and more. The lighting and lasers were also amazing and added a dance club energy to the stadium.
The stage itself was also large and unique, with an additional catwalk jutting from it, and a circle surrounding it. The stage brought Beyoncé closer to the lucky fans at ground level, and allowed plenty of space to slay.
Stage props included a silver space tanker and disco horse, both of which Beyoncé rides on, along with robot arms that fan her off during "Heated." During that song — which she revealed is her favorite from RENAISSANCE — a towering circle of mics surrounded her.
While it's quite hard to measure fabulous against fabulous, the Virgo queen progressively one-upped herself throughout the show. She saved the best for last, though, opening the jaw-dropping final act with Jim Morrison quote "Whoever controls the media controls the mind" flashed on screen, between "MIND" and "CONTROL," with Bey's face in the middle. It felt like a playful nod to the conspiracy theory that Bey and Jay are part of the Illuminati, as well as to the very real overload of information (and misinformation) we experience 24/7. The screen flashed images of fire, clocks, reCAPTCHA prompts, and more to a medley of Destiny's Child's songs.
This organized chaos set the tone for "America Has A Problem" during which a fake stock market ticker — with symbols like "HNY" that alluded to her song titles — inched along the edges of the screen. The supposed master puppeteer sat at an "on air" news desk, a la her RENAISSANCE photo shoot.
And for the final moments of magic on stage, Beyoncé took us to heaven. She rode out on a disco horse a la the RENAISSANCE cover (and Bianca Jagger at Studio 54) to Donna Summers' disco hit "I Feel Love." She wore an impossibly long, blindingly shimmering disco cape, and wrapped the show with the "I Feel Love"-sampling track and RENAISSANCE closer, "Summer Renaissance." As silver confetti burst into the audience, she flew through the air high above the stage, her regal cape fluttering like angel wings.
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