LivePLAY: Beyoncé – Mrs Carter World Tour, O2 London, 05/05/13

So there’s been (Bey-n?) a lot of furore over the erstwhile Miss Knowles recently. Where is the new material? Why is a feminist reduced to Mrs Carter? Why did that documentary tell us next to nothing new? Many people sought the answers to these questions on the London leg of Queen Bey’s world tour; we, however, went along to party.

And party we did. The moment Beyoncé lands on stage it’s a ball of energy, worth every single ounce of your time. She obviously isn’t a Cheryl Cole, skimping through a back catalogue most perfunctorily while throwing some shapes over lip-sync. No no, this is a show that is determined to make you forgive Ticketmaster for all its twattish ways and be thankful that you ever got to have this experience (though we’re not sure how the people next to us felt, considering they paid £200 each to get the same as our face value tickets).

The show kicks off with the stomping Run the World (Girls), while quickly segueing into a number of hits old and new: I Care, Naughty Girl, and Baby Boy are high on the list, while Flaws & All reveals a touching moment of humility, Beyonce’s eyes welling up as if she still can’t quite believe how many people are screaming her songs back to her. 

In between the rigorous thigh-clenching there are the obligatory costume changes, ranging from diamanté priestess to shimmering royal blue catsuits – none of which of course have anything to do with the music, but are pretty nonetheless.

It is quite a relentless show, with perhaps not enough of a dip into Bey’s back catalogue (or Destiny’s Child’s for that matter) and far too many lowerings of a screen that’s determined to play barmy visuals that are neither here nor there. It’s adequate decoration, but let’s not be fooled into thinking there’s some sort of theme or cohesive narrative here. 

The show really kicks into gear from 1+1, still the most scintillating live ballad you can ever hope to hear… more so when it’s sung while writhing atop a piano. After that, Beyonce straps herself in to go flying through to her B-Stage, where it’s a knockout trio of Irreplaceable, Survivor, and Love on Top that remind us why she is who she is. This was her sixth night at the O2, yet she determinedly made the audience feel like she was doing it for the first time, just for us, having as much fun even though she probably never wants to hear the words ‘to the left’ ever again. 

The show closes with Mrs Carter, now gladiatorial, dipping low to Crazy in Love and Single Ladies, before rocking out the afrobeat style for Grown Woman (a good sign for the new album that this happened to be the song we still hummed on the way home). Of course, there’s the standard final singalong to Halo, but by that point it’s certainly clear how ironic the “Mrs Carter” title of the show is, and how much its critics have missed the point. Beyonce has never needed her husband’s name to court success – this is just the name of a proud wife and mother, strong enough to bear his children… then get back to bi’ness. 

[POSTSCRIPT: A mention has to be made of quite possibly the single most horrendous support act we’ve ever seen in our lives. While we hate discouraging new talent, it baffles us why proto-feminist Beyonce would choose such an unoriginal, regressive ‘R&B’ artist such as Luke James. The minute he begins a strip routine in the middle of his song, wearing a sleeveless shirt, it all turns a bit ‘Chippendale hen party’ (if said Chippendale were dressed like a lecherous priest), and it’s hard to give this man any credibility whatsoever. Not impressed, Mrs Carter.]