Shortly after unexpectedly dropping her record-breaking fifth album, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter brought The Mrs. Carter Tour to Toronto for its 103rd stop. Beyoncé has redefined the definition of mega star and is known for being the bar everyone else is compared against — and rightfully so.
New Orleans singer-songwriter Luke James opened up the night to a half full stadium crowd. The former background singer for Tyrese was warmly received and the crooner thanked the crowd profusely as he ended his set shirtless, to the chords of “I Want You”.
The crowd itself was an interesting mix. Bey’s demographic usually peaks in the women over 25 category. However, there were a surprising number of middle-aged men and teenaged boys eagerly awaiting the appearance of Yonce herself. A thirteen-year-old boy in Queen B T-shirts is not generally what comes instantly to mind when you think: Beyoncé live.
The lights came down approximately 20 minutes later than scheduled. An enormous rectangular screen lit up edge-to-edge and lowered from the rafters as horns blared and snares rolled. Dancers appeared from both sides of the stage clad in futuristic all white and as the screen lifted, Bey’s all-female band stood tall. Then, in the briefest of dark moments Beyoncé appeared, seemingly out of thin air (it was actually a cleverly timed trap door) and the previously aimless snares rolled into the familiar staccato of “Girls (Run the World)”.
There was barely a chance to breathe as Bey went from “End of Time” to “Flaws and All” and after a quick costume change powering through “If I Were a Boy”. No two songs played the same. Whether it was the hypnotic flashes of dutty wine during “Baby Boy” or remixing “Diva” over Kanye’s “Mercy”, each song felt like a show on its own. There were fireworks, sparks, props and smoke, but any performer with a budget has the same. It was more the total package that set her apart. Bey’s effortless switches from singer to dancer were enthralling. There were moments when Les Twins seemed to float onto the stage and deliver some truly entertaining storytelling through dance and others when her back up dancers would complement each hit so succinctly it felt almost artificial.
Beyoncé has some of the most dedicated fans in the world. They screamed at every video clip and dutifully played back-up singer at the Queen’s beckon. Her fans not only knew every word, but every inflection and wavering pitch was matched. Even the lucky few in the front row that got a chance to finish a lyric on her mic did so with flare, showing off their pipes. It was to the point where any words omitted for the sake of catching a breath or emphasizing a moment, was instantly filled in by the audience.
It’s hard to be satisfied with any Beyoncé set list that isn’t three hours long, but Mrs. Carter covered a good range of classics and number ones in about an hour and a half. She even gave Toronto a special treat by performing “XO” off of her latest album. From flying across the stadium on harness to keeping the crowd jumping through 90 minutes of pure energy, Beyoncé showed Toronto exactly why fans call her the Queen and why the crown is exactly where it should be.
Words By. Sean Watson Photos Courtesy of Beyonce Media Center (Photos From Brooklyn Show – Dec. 19)