Beyoncé Sets the Bar in Minneapolis
Review by Patrick Dunn
Photo by Frank Micelotta / Parkwood Entertainment
“Rain” isn’t a word I would have expected to be using to describe megastar Beyoncé’s Formation Tour performance at TCF Bank Stadium, May 23rd. It did, however, turn out to be a repeating theme throughout the evening. During the opening set that included a surprise appearance by Wiz Kahlifa, DJ Drama commented, “if it “rains” tonight, Prince is looking down on us.” A few drops did fall from looming dark cloud cover and lightning strikes caused a temporary evacuation that added an element of danger and heightened anticipation as we had to wait just a little bit longer for the main event.
Of the 35 thousand ticket holders, women clearly outnumbered the men and many were dressed up as if out for a night of clubbing in downtown Minneapolis. It was also great to see respected players from our local music scene on hand including the 3rd Eye Girl crew. Props to all the enthusiastic fans who were loud and created great reciprocal energy that added to the overall experience and did Minnesota proud. Beyoncé must have been feeling it when she remarked, “Minneapolis, so glad to be here. You guys are riding with me through the storm.”
The stage was so large it stretched the entire width of the stadium, but had a deceptively simple design with a giant video cube in the middle as the main focal point. I was impressed with how well they used this space throughout the course of the show to make sure all parts of the audience felt "performed to" more than just once. You could feel the bass rumble in your gut, but in a good way as it did not over power the mix. The sound was really on from start to finish, despite not being played live by a band. I’m sure that didn’t matter to most fans as they came to hear Beyoncé sing, which sounded flawless, and see her dance, which was nothing short of spectacular.
As smoke blew across the stage, Beyoncé first came into view with a presence that projected confidence, attitude and sass. The fashion was classy meets edgy with a stylized black leotard, patterned stockings, high heal boots and an extra-wide brimmed black vintage hat. Speaking fragments from her song Formation, set the dark tone that is felt throughout her current release Lemonade. “If you came to slay tonight, say I slay! If you came to dance tonight, say I slay!” Only women would grace the stage from this point forward as 14 dancers lined up around Queen Bey and labored their way through a fierce piece of choreography that had the crowd super fired up knowing this was just a sampling of what would take place over the next two hours.
The energy turned more upbeat with Run the World (Girls), an early standout that was a sure bet for encouraging crowd participation. There were a lot of musical/video interludes with familiar song fragments mixed in that effectively maintained the feel and flow of our journey while outfit changes and re-primping was taking place. Now adorned in sparkling white lace, a ferocious tribal dance was weaved into sections of Mine that seamlessly transitioned into Baby Boy, which had fans joyously singing along. “The most important relationship you have is with yourself first” was Beyoncé’s next statement setting up Me, Myself & I, a sure highlight for her vocally. A live guitar solo lead-in conjured up an intense expression of rage during Don’t Hurt Yourself and Ring the Alarm, which incorporated a gold throne into the dance that played nicely off the flashiest outfits of the night, also gold in color. Beyoncé introduced 1 + 1 as her favorite song to sing each night and backed it up by belting out her most dynamic vocal performance so far. Although it has already been a regular part of the set, there was great anticipation in Minneapolis for Prince’s The Beautiful Ones, which I’ve got to believe had deeper meaning on this sacred soil. It was time for more “rain” - Purple Rain! The unaltered album version rang out across an empty stage with the giant cube in the middle aglow in purple, a moving tribute and appreciated sign of respect.
Now in fire engine red outfits, the epic hit Crazy in Love began a steady build toward the climax. With the crowd now in full on party mode, a far reaching confetti blast added an element of fun to Naughty Girl. The most performance worthy song off Lemonade is Freedom. They brilliantly chose that track to be the foundation for the most eye catching and memorable part of the show, a water dance that ironically triggered actual “rain” to fall. Just when it seemed like there was no higher level to achieve, Halo was the perfect selection to send us on our way, satisfied, electrified and wanting to do it all over again tomorrow night.
I believe this performance sets a new bar for big production shows and solidifies Queen Bey’s “reign” until the next time she decides to come back and outdo herself.
3. Kitty Kat
4. Bow Down
5. Run The World (Girls)
7. Baby Boy
8. Hold Up
10. Me, Myself and I
11. Runnin' (Lose it All) (Naughty Boy)
12. All Night
13. Don't Hurt Yourself
14. Ring the Alarm
16. Feelint Myself (Nicki Minag)
18. Drunk In Love
20. Daddy Lessons
21. 1 + 1
22. The Beautiful Ones (Prince)
23. Love On Top
24. Purple Rain (Prince)
25. Crazy in Love
26. Naughty Girl
31. Endo of Time (Destiny's Child)