Beyoncé, Nottingham Arena, Wednesday June 6
The best arena artists are the ones who refuse to cut corners. Aware that there are higher ideals than merely extracting the maximum financial return from the minimum investment, they aim for nothing less than artistic and technical perfection. On the strength of last night’s astonishing show, the extraordinarily driven, focussed and committed Beyoncé Knowles is clearly one such artist.
Fronting an all-female band, and accompanied by some of the sexiest dancers on the planet, Beyoncé tore through over thirty numbers in over two hours, still finding time for six changes of costume. Bookended by her two biggest and best hits, Crazy In Love and Déjà Vu, the set featured a ten-song medley of Destiny’s Child favourites, as well as the recent chart-topper Beautiful Liar (accompanied by video images of Shakira, the song’s co-performer), and Listen (from the soundtrack of Dreamgirls).
In some ways, this was a traditional soul revue, whose dazzling energy and pacing brought to mind the likes of Prince at the height of his powers. In other ways, it was totally contemporary, showcasing an inventive, adventurous style of music which simply couldn’t have existed in any other decade.
Although belonging to a lineage of soul divas which stretches back over forty years, what sets Beyoncé apart from her predecessors is her utter lack of vulnerability. This is a woman who is fully in control of every aspect of her presentation and personality, at all times. And so, despite seeing real tears roll down her face towards the end of the ballad Flaws And All, you somehow knew that similar tears would be flowing, at precisely the same moment, on every night of her 77-date world tour.
Beautiful, talented, untouchable, mysterious, and with a flawlessness that borders on the downright eerie, Beyoncé is that rare creature: a true icon and a natural star.