Live show review: Beyoncé - Formation world tour

Beyoncé: Formation world tour (Photo credit: Andrew White) | Random J Pop

"[Bumblebee emoji]. We're going". That was how I found out that I was going to see Beyoncé at Wembley and that I'd be losing £120 of my money and a Sunday. My Sunday. A day on which I try to do as little as possible. Now I was going to have to travel all the way to Wembley to watch a woman thrash her weave for 2 hours and then get home close to midnight.

Beyoncé has been an artist I've followed since "No, no, no". But I've only ever seen her live once, on the Destiny fulfilled tour with her 2 back up singers Kelly and Michelle 'not the white Dawson's Creek one' Williams. But having kinda wished I'd gotten to see the Amazonian empress of lacefront island on her Mrs. Carter world tour, there was a part of me that genuinely didn't want to miss out this time around. And thankfully for me and my bank balance, I didn't regret it.

The Beyoncé experience and I am... tours hadn't done much for me. It was only with the Mrs. Carter world tour that I felt that I needed to see Beyoncé live. The Beyoncé on this tour was a different Beyoncé. She wasn't trying to be successful or trying to be anything. She was just...doing her thing. Which some may argue are other people's things. But she's doing it. And this was the Formation world tour in a nutshell. Beyoncé had zero to prove. She was on that stage because it was hers. Not to prove that it should be.

Confidence has done wonders for Beyoncé and it really showed here. Beyoncé has never come across as lacking as such, but her demeanour and energy here felt effortless. Before she always came across as though she was just trying too hard. Now Beyoncé seems to have found a sweet spot which works for her. A sweet spot of which may be contentment, in both her personal life and her career.

Now, I won't go into Beyoncé's live vocals in too much detail. I'll just say this. Beyoncé is a master class lip syncer. It's difficult to even know when she is and isn't doing it. But she does it. Because Beyoncé effortlessly switches between live vocals and lip syncing you never really notice it, until you start watching multiple videos of her performances and catch that some of her vocals, runs and riffs are 100% identical. But the fact of the matter is that Beyoncé can sing. She knows it. We all know it. She knows we all know it. So we accept it. Also, it's not like her shows are completely void of live vocals. She does sing live. Just not the whole entire show. But she's giving you such a spectacle that it doesn't even matter. And even with the lip syncing, she';s making your fave look really lazy. *Looks over at Britney*

Beyoncé can sing. She knows it. We all know it. She knows we all know it. So we accept it. 

The set list was a really mixed bag and not has heavily anchored by the Lemonade album as you would have thought.

Formation
Sorry
Irreplaceable
Bow down
Run the world (Girls)
Mine
Baby boy
Hold up
Countdown
Me, myself & I
Runnin' (Lose it all)
All night
Don't hurt yourself
Ring the alarm"
Diva
Flawless (Remix)
Feeling myself
Yoncé
Drunk in Love
Rocket
Partition
Daddy lessons
Love on top
1+1
The beautiful ones
Crazy in love (2014 remix)
Crazy in love
Bootylicious
Naughty girl
Party
Freedom
Survivor
End of time
Grown woman
Halo

However, some of these songs were just referenced or played for 30 seconds. So below a much more detailed setlist, based on how much of the song Beyoncé bothered to actually perform.

Formation (Didn't perform the full song)
Sorry (Didn't perform the full song)
Irreplaceable (Didn't perform the full song)
Bow down
Run the world (Girls) (Didn't perform the full song)
Mine (Didn't perform the full song)
Baby boy (Didn't perform the full song)
Hold up (Didn't perform the full song)
Countdown (Didn't perform the full song)
Me, myself & I
Runnin' (Lose it all)
All night
Don't hurt yourself
Ring the alarm (Didn't perform the full song)
Diva (Didn't perform the full song)
Flawless (Remix) (Didn't perform the full song)
Feeling myself (Sang one line)
Yoncé
Drunk in love (Didn't perform the full song)
Rocket
Partition
Daddy lessons
Love on top
1+1
The beautiful ones
Crazy in love (2014 remix)
Crazy in love (She sang 2 lines then did the uh-oh dance)
Bootylicious (She shook her ass to 1 run of the chorus)
Naughty girl (Didn't perform the full song)
Party (Didn't perform the full song)
Freedom
Survivor (She sang the first verse and the chorus, then that was it)
End of Time (Didn't perform the full song)
Grown woman (This was mashed-up with "End of time". She did not perform it on its own)
Halo 

For years I've always found Beyoncé's tour set lists and album track lists to be really patchy and flow badly, and the trend continues here. Beyoncé's last 2 albums having a pretty solid track order and a sense of flow has done nothing for her applying the same discipline to her live set lists.

Beyoncé: Formation world tour (Photo credit: Daniela Vesco) | Random J Pop

Firstly, the show was oddly punctuated with slow songs which felt as though they came out of nowhere, and were wedged in-between bangers. I like me a slow song, but Beyoncé dropped them into the setlist like Acme anvils. The best way I can describe the atmosphere during the gig was that it was like a club. I was bankhead bouncing with a complete stranger, but this would be interrupted by Beyoncé deciding to just do a slow song for the sake of it. It broke the set list up so badly and there was no transition or segway. It was literally:

  • BANGER. BANGER. BANGER. Slow song.
  • Interlude / Costume change.
  • BANGER. BANGER. Slow song.
  • Interlude / Costume change

The slow numbers were the moments where Beyoncé would talk to the audience and connect with fans. Telling them to believe in themselves and keep Jesus in their lives. I like the sentiment. And I get it. But they were badly slotted into the setlist with no consideration for where they were placed. And as stripped down as the slow numbers were, they felt sloppily staged. When Beyoncé is performing her uptempo numbers, the giant monolithic screen (the centrepiece of the stage) is doing the most. The lights are going off. The smoke machines are gassing the front row. The fans are are blowing Beyoncé's bundles back with such velocity that the tresses don't even touch her shoulders. But for the slow songs it was just Beyoncé in a corner of the stage with all of this dead space around her and nothing. I admire that Beyoncé wanted to strip these performances down to make it about the song and her vocals. But gurl, play a video. Get some lighting. Do some impressionist dancing. Having one of your people hang upside down from a stunt wire and do a P!nk across the arena. Suttin'. These performance felt at odds with everything either side of them because the production values were so comparatively low.

Beyoncé: Formation world tour (Photo credit: Andrew White) | Random J Pop

The setlist was a case of quantity over quality. The aim seemed to be 'lets jam in as many songs as possible'. Near enough every single song was cut down and chopped into a medley. The medleys were brilliantly mixed and revived old Beyoncé songs in a way that gave me a new appreciation for them. Dangerously so to the point where I can't even listen to the originals. "Countdown" was mashed with Wine-O's "Pop my trunk". "Diva" was remixed and then mashed with O.T Genasis' "Cut it". "Freakum dress" also got a hot remix during an interlude. But there were far too many instances when Beyoncé should have performed a full song, but instead all she gave was a verse and a chorus. This was even the case for songs off of Lemonade such as "Hold up", which despite being is a unanimous album favourite got severely cut down in favour of 4's "Countdown".

The setlist lacked the focus of the album that the tour was in support of.

Despite this tour being in support of Lemonade, Beyoncé only performed 3 songs from the album in full. All of the rest were severely truncated and cut into medleys. The only songs from "Lemonade" which made an actual impact were "Formation" and "Freedom". The former due to it being a single, the tour opening with it and being named after it. The later due to Beyoncé giving her front row fans a baptism by kicking water in their faces as she sang it. Beyoncé didn't seem to make Lemonade the focus when it should have been. The encore song should not have been "Halo", it should have been "All night". "Partition" and "Crazy in love (2014)" should have been jettisoned in place of "6 inch". "Rocket" should have been replaced with "Love drought". "Pray you catch me" should have been performed instead of "Runnin' (Lose it all)".

The setlist was a shambles. Some songs should have just been plain cut. Others were oddly omitted. And whilst the medley's were good, they were far too brief and ran through the songs at too quick a pace. The setlist lacked the focus of the album that the tour was in support of.

Beyoncé: Formation world tour (Photo credit: Andrew White) | Random J Pop

Many have debated whether Beyoncé is the closest thing we have to Michael Jackson in terms of a live performer. I'm not trying to poke nests, but it may be the case here. At least in terms of sheer spectacle and the venues of which Beyoncé is able to fill. The fact she was able to pretty much sell out a stadium is insane. The entire time I was watching Beyoncé and her troupe perform, I couldn't believe that one woman had managed to have 140,000 people flock to see her.

Beyoncé: Formation world tour (Photo credit: Andrew White) | Random J Pop

The magnitude of Beyoncé's existence and star power only hit me when I was stood amongst fans, seeing everybody completely losing their shit over her. Fans were crying. Declaring their love for her. For some this was their second or third time seeing her on this very same tour, having flown out to other countries to see her. This is truly their Queen. Whilst I know the the beyhive swarm hard online, seeing them in actuality made me realise that Beyoncé is bigger than even I had thought. She's truly touched people and has become something bigger than I thought she initially was. Many had questions years ago whether Beyoncé was an icon. Having come away from seeing a stage setup which featured a 60 inch rotating screen, a B-stage which filled up with water, one woman tear through a lengthy set without so much as showing fatigue and an entire stadium pierce the darkness by holding up their lit mobile phones - there is no question now. She truly is.

Beyoncé's Formation world tour was far from perfect. But it cemented the fact that she puts on one a hell of a show.

No comments:

Post a Comment

HTML tags for bold, italic and hyperlinks are allowed