Review: Beyoncé at the Tottenham Stadium ★★★★★
In Alien Superstar, Beyoncé states “I’m the bar”. This is not swag, or brag. It’s fact. In Renaissance, she proves that she is without peer, in talent, vision and across every other aspect of being a live performer. Every other entertainer has to relate to their place in the pecking order below her.
Is it possible to objectively review this experience? Since going to the first show of the epic five-night London run last week, I’ve been reduced to summing up Renaissance with the whispered line “It was better than I expected”. At which my friends fall over in shock. Because I expected A LOT. I almost fainted in the Formation tour in 2016. I consider the Beychella Homecoming film the best document of probably the best live show by any living artist. Spotify Wrapped has me down as in the top 0.1% of Beyonce listeners worldwide for 2022. Let’s say that I was already onside.
But Renaissance live is a wonder. Much has been made by casual attendees of why Beyonce would start the show solo, in a gown, delivering big ballads, and quite obscure ones too. But this sheer confidence demonstrates that honest connection and otherworldly vocal talent is the bedrock that everything else is built on. It does two other things straight off the bat too. It demonstrates that she is in charge (as is made clear later in the show, “a queen moves at her own pace, bitch”) but also gives her space to relax, to be less hard on herself, to sit back into that epic gift, and just be …. Bey. This is something new – the famous drive is there but this being less hard on herself is very moving. She seems genuinely accepting of our love. Hence the inclusion of ‘Flaws and All’ near the start. There’s a little touch into the old showgirl ways “Hey Mz Carter” etc., but mostly she’s allowing herself to have fun and that’s incredible fun for us. As ‘Cuff It’ has it, “have you ever had fun like this?”
When the Renaissance section starts proper in Act Two, we are off into the extraordinary fantasy land that you must have read about. Robots, flying horses, stunning ballroom choreography. Es Devlin’s design and the videography are out of this world. Me and everyone around me were reduced to saying “fuck” in almost exhausted disbelief as new moments unfolded.
This show needed every track from the Renaissance album and we got them, but the snatches from Bey’s immense back catalogue mean that she’s effectively sampling herself. It’s a heady ride – like when ‘Sweet Dreams’ threatens to start in ‘Alien Superstar’, but is gone before you’ve stopped screaming in recognition. There were a lot of tears around me – a lot of overwhelm. Blue Ivy, Beyoncé’s daughter, coming out to dance was both thrilling and too much. At the end two women came up to me and said “We kept watching you. We’ve never seen a human look so happy”. Maybe that’s how you objectively review this experience.
The Renaissance World Tour continues across Europe until 28th June 2023.
Their first album in their own name is released on 23 June 2023. It’s a multi-genre concept pop collection about being gender nonconforming, called Always Here.