Out of curiosity, I Googled "Beyoncé annoying" to see what kind of search results I would yield. Surprisingly, 388,000 results were found. Most of these, mind you, were opinions expressed by bloggers and music forum members. What many of us tend to forget in this day and age of Lady Gaga or even Whitney Houston comebacks for that matter, is that we are actually witnessing the development of a pop music legend in a time where megastars are becoming extinct. This pop music legend is Beyoncé Knowles.
We often forget that Knowles, more commonly just known as Beyoncé, has sold over 75 million records and counting. This total represents her career from her days fronting the world's best selling female group Destiny's Child, to present. She is responsible for the most top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart this decade, with a total of twelve hits. And despite varying opinions on her acting talent, Beyoncé is also an accomplished actress having starred in box office successes "Austin Powers 3: Goldmember" and more recently, "Obsessed". Above this, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical/Comedy for her performance in "Dreamgirls" which also garnered favourable reviews. Despite these lofty accomplishments, Beyoncé still lacks the true respect she should warrant. Case in point, she struggled to fill Toronto's Air Canada Centre on her last tour ,"The Beyoncé Experience". This time she aimed at filling a more modest venue in Molson Amphitheatre. And she did it with ease to an enthused audience of 16,000 plus. Some local celebrities like hip-hop's newest rising star Drake, rumoured to be dating Rihanna, were in attendance even.
Beyoncé arrived on stage at approximately 9:30 PM EST with an eight-piece all female band she calls "The Suga Mamas", a team of tightly choreographed dancers and three sassy backing vocalists known affectionately as "The Mamas". She opened the night with her first major solo hit "Crazy in Love" donning one of many sequined form-fitting numbers designed by Thierry Mugler to accentuate her Tina Turner-rivaling legs. She continued delivering up-tempo numbers in her first set which included "Naughty Girl" and "Get Me Bodied".
After a quick costume change, Beyoncé arrived upper stage as a stunning vision in white, appearing before oceanic projections on an LED backdrop. She delivered a beautiful rendition of "Smash Into You", then followed by another on-stage costume change to a white Princess dress singing her version of "Ave Maria" and Sarah McLachlan's "Angel". Truly an odd juxtaposition after such a sultry opening.
The show kicked into high gear again with a rocked-out rendition of "If I Were a Boy" interspersed with Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know"; the audience responded positively. Other highlights of the show included a condensed remix of new latest single "Ego" featuring Kanye West (in absentia), and "Irreplaceable" where Beyoncé engaged the audience in a guys versus girls sing-a-long in which they did most of the singing. To see a full-length video of this, my YouTube channel.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Beyoncé pay homage to her Destiny's Child days performing a medley that included "Bootylicious", "Bug A Boo", "Jumpin' Jumpin'", "Say My Name" and "Survivor". The curtains were then drawn as the band got a brief rest while she gave the audience her all in a cover of Etta James' "At Last". Many of us will remember that Beyoncé performed this same song at President Obama's Inauguration Ball and to ensure you remembered this, a video montage of the President and First Lady dancing was projected.
After exiting the stage briefly, the audience was treated to a two-song encore headed by mega-hit "Single Ladies" which had the audience going ecstatic. Beyoncé then paid tribute to the artist she claims is the reason why she chose to be an entertainer, Michael Jackson. She dedicated "Halo" from her "I Am…. Sasha Fierce" album to Jackson, in what was genuinely a heartfelt moment. Assisted by two bodyguards, she then went into the audience and greeted fans with handshakes. "I Am…. Yours", Beyoncé assured us with a promise to keep entertaining.
Everything about this show was technically spot-on. There was quite a bit of audio distortion considering that Beyoncé's sound system was likely configured for a much larger venue. It is because of venue size restrictions that Toronto never got to see the "B Stage" designed specifically for the tour. The dancing was also phenomenal for one and there was just the right amount of interaction to make things personable. Even after full-out singing for over 90 minutes, Beyoncé's voice showed no sign of fatigue. The band also had a wonderful chemistry and the show was not overly dependent on flashy visuals – the focus was clearly set on its star.
For pics from Beyoncé's "I Am…." Toronto show, click here.