Pop quiz time. Beyoncé is:
A) The ultimate pop star of this century, B) a wife and mother, C) one of the most beautiful women in the world, D) winner of 17 Grammys (third most by a woman), E) one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world, F) a pitchwoman for hair products, bikinis, perfume, soda pop and other products, G) part of the world’s highest-paid celebrity couple (with Jay Z), H) a friend of Barack and Michelle Obama, I) a control freak who won’t allow newspaper photographers at her concerts, J) an empowering feminist and social activist …
Oh geez, I’m exhausted. Let’s just go with ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Oh, she can sing and dance, and write and produce hits. And she’s a bewitching, bedazzling and beautylicious performer, as 13,000 beaming fans discovered Thursday at nearly sold-out Xcel Energy Center. Still, it was a bewildering performance in terms of pacing, song selection and personality.
Beyoncé, 31, featured seven songs from her 2-year-old album “4,” which was probably four too many.
Some more tunes from her Destiny’s Child years would have been preferable to the filler that bogged down this two-hour extravaganza. Too many of her songs speak to listeners’ feet and booties and not to their minds or her personality. After an evening with her, do we really know her any better?
Her lavishly produced video interludes (so she could exit to change into another fabulous one-piece outfit) came across as a life coach in queen’s clothes delivering platitudinous pep talks. Empowering, perhaps, but not insightful into Beyoncé’s personality. Do we really believe her singing a song called “Flaws and All” about her being loved despite being imperfect?
She delivered her messages of encouragement and empowerment in other ways, such as having an 11-member all-female band that kicked butt (loved the bassist’s pink strings), having nine female dancers (and only two male dancers) who shook butt and inviting fans (including what appeared to be a 3-year-old girl) to sing into her microphone on “Irreplaceable” (you know, “to the left, to the left … ”).
As with almost everything in her life, Beyoncé understands how to put together the total package. For her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, she had Kiss-worthy pyro, dazzling lighting, bejeweled outfits (loved the sparkly catwoman suit), a remote stage to which she traveled by zip line over the crowd and giant fans at her feet that kept her golden locks aflutter all night long.
Her boldest conceptual move artistically — mashing up her hit “If I Were a Boy” with the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” — misfired, by smothering the intimacy of “Boy.”
While the overall concept of Beyoncé’s show may have been befuddling, the choreography for her and her dancers was smart and innovative. On “Get Me Bodied,” she and her girls danced as silhouettes against a wall of white light. It was a terrific effect. In fact, on the ensuing “Baby Boy,” the combination of creative lighting and flashing strobes was more triumphant than the steps of the dancers.
In the end, the bestilicious thing about Beyoncé Thursday was her voice. She can sang it — with Broadway power, pop bounce and soul sass.
She may not have the stratospheric pipes of Whitney (that was clear on a cover of “I Will Always Love You”) or churchy power of Aretha. But the Queen B, flaws and all, ruled at the X.