“Brooklyn! Welcome, Brooklyn.”
Brooklyn, in fact, had already been hyping itself up for approximately 75 minutes when the first thundering notes of the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour rung out in the sports stadium formerly partially owned by Mr. Carter – and frankly, seemed about ready to collectively pee its pants. (Or more accurately, its fancypants; a Beyoncé crowd does not stint on the Saturday-night spangles.)
Because, of course, neither would the guest of honor: Emerging in an intricately iced-out onesie that can best be described as Razzle McDazzle Goes to the Fierce-Capades, she launched immediately into a frenetic “Run the World (Girls),” on through “End of Time” and B’Day’s “Flaws and All.”
It took a minute to process what was different about her version “If I Were a Boy” – basically, that she was weaving it through an instrumental refrain of the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony,” which mostly weirdly worked.
So did all the call-and-response business, except for the guy in the front row who got the mic and then didn’t know the words to “Irreplaceable.” (Really, front-row guy? When Bey frowned, we frowned with her). The room roared when she asked for multiple “Hey, Mrs. Carter” salutations (entire ecstatic Barclays Center: “Heyyyyyyyyyy Mizz Caaaarter!”) and then swooped into “Get Me Bodied” and “Diva” with a Donna Summer “Love to Love You Baby” call-back.
If you’re not a major 4 fan, prepare to be disappointed; she went seriously heavy on that tracklist. But in general, those songs actually sounded the best – “I Care,” “I Miss You,” “1 + 1” and “Love On Top” are each in their own way epic, and it’s obvious they’re personal favorites of hers; “Crazy in Love” and “Single Ladies” felt obligatory by comparison, though of course she pretty much can’t leave them out of a set at this point.
The night’s only real bummer was how often the momentum was blunted by costume changes. A lot of super-arty videos featuring an oblique Bey-as-the-White-Queen narrative and some pretty fantastic interstitial dancing (Les Twins!) couldn’t quite justify the slow downs for outfit swaps that seemed to come roughly every seven minutes. (Seriously, she could have just worn the purple jumpsuit all night; I want to wear it to work and brunch and church and maybe get married in it.)
The not-quite single “Grown Woman” actually felt electric onstage, in a way it never has on tinny YouTube plays. And an “I Will Always Love You” a cappella into “Halo” came off as an appropriately chest-poundy ending, if a little melancholy for a closer.
Then again, that’s her prerogative; after nearly two hours, twenty-plus songs, and an entire eyeball-melting solar system of sequins, Mrs. Carter told us all to drive safely, and then went gently into that good night.