I witnessed one of the greatest artists of our time deliver a flawless show at Wembley Stadium over the weekend. Think about that……greatest…….flawless……..stadium. I’ve rarely used those three words in the same sentence.
Wembley Stadium is a difficult venue to perform at. Being part of a crowd at a venue that can hold 80,000 people is a daunting experience in itself, but for artists it is a test of their relevance, legacy, and endurance. No artist can do these kind of venues unless they have the catalogue to match an iconic status. It’s easy to forget that Beyonce has been doing this since the late 90s towards the end of the shiny suit era. After Destiny’s Child she embarked on a highly successful solo career that has outshone and outlasted many other artists and enabled her to perform two shows back to back at Wembley Stadium for her Formation tour.
In 2016 alone Beyonce pushed boundaries, challenged normality, and represented something far greater than anyone could have imagined. Her recent album ‘Lemonade’ was an audio/visual moment that over shadowed every artist regardless of genre or age. A body of work with a clear overt message, timeless music of substance to rival any rap album. She doesn’t own summer 16, she owns 2016. With this in mind I didn’t know what to expect from the show, I was just excited to see her perform as I’d worked on her projects back in the day which led to my first official gig within the music industry. I saw Eminem supported by Odd Future, and Danny Brown at Wembley Stadium recently and it was dope, but Beyonce at Wembley was a very different experience.
When the show starts and you see the vast digital backdrop the size of a six story building its the moment when you realise that she is a true stadium act, that she is the most important artist of our time. She sings and dances flawlessly for over two hours, performing a constant assault of genre defining hit singles without any guests. This is the point when it hits you that Beyonce has released 6 solo albums, and 5 albums with Destinys Child. She doesn’t just rely on the hits to see her through as everything is presented with precise detail, every track is creatively expanded with an alternate arrangement or vibe. Every track performed has a specific cutting edge dance routine, sometimes utilising another hip-hop banger such as ‘Niggas in Paris’, or ‘Why U Mad’. The use of Skepta and JME’s ’That’s not me’ instrumental within her set was one of those jaw dropping surprises that was performed with intricate detail like she had been performing it for years.
The digital backdrop/building rotated and divided into two to reveal dancers. The catwalk that stretched into the crowd contained two escalators similar to what they have in airports. This led to a stage in the middle of the stadium which was filled with water towards the end of the show, and provided a crazy visual for another amazing dance routine. The reveals, the excitement, the pursuit of excellence was non-stop.
Beyonce is the queen of popular culture and her live show represents that, a ticket is worth every single penny because you get to witness a moment you may never see again. I never got to see the king of pop Michael Jackson perform live, but I heard the myths and stories about how he went all out with the set design, the ‘magic’ of his live show, and how he was the ultimate entertainer. I can imagine this is the closest I will ever get to that experience in this lifetime.