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Credit: Live Nation

Beyoncé’s impact can be felt long before you reach the swamped steps of Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium. North London appears reimagined; a hyper-camp spectacle of sparkling silver cowboy hats and rainbow-studded folding flags. Pride (Month) is in session. Renaissance World Tour has reached a new level of infamy. Yet, even on the tail end of her London takeover, Beyoncé and the Beyhive have shown up and got down in style.

In front of over 62,000 die-hard fans, Beyoncé unravelled a three-hour sci-fi showcase, kitted out with glitzy queer-inspired production, as she shape-shifted between discography eras. It’s no surprise major names Ariana Grande, Paul McCartney, and Kelly Rowland all showed up to see a game-changer in action. Ahead of taking to the stage, Beyoncé appears on a stadium-wide digital screen akin to a futurist Neoclassical painting. As the looming stage vault-style gateway peels back, the queen herself emerges. Decked out in a lavish all-black affair and feted by fans, Beyoncé stuck to the programme kickstarting off her own opening-style segment of the show.

Throwing things back to 2003, Beyoncé effortlessly took us back to where it all began. Yes, we’re talking (and vouching) about stage openers ‘Dangerously In Love’. Ballads ‘Flaws and All’ and ‘1+1’ eased us in easily but didn’t hold back on demonstrating her stand-out vocals. The iconic singer transitioned into stellar double covers with Mary J. Blige’s ‘I’m Going Down’ and a heartfelt tribute to the late Tina Turner. Intimate and intentional, Beyoncé sets the bar high with her relatively stripped-back beginnings — a nod to her past, priors and the front-facing legacy that follows her evolution. 

As onlookers soak in the early glimpses of a pop crusader in action, a thundering ovation unwinds as the Renaissance era makes its silver-suited appearance. Rolling out in a gleaming metallic armour-meets-corset getup, Beyoncé returns with another statement appearance. And, if that wasn’t enough, the singer sleekly unclasps from her robotic outfit to claim the stage as her own.

A compendium of queerness, ‘I’m That Girl’ thumps through the stadium and gets the crowd going. The post-chorus moment from ‘Cozy’, spoken by Black trans personality Ts Madison, reaffirmed a powerful feeling of community: “I’m dark brown, dark skin, light skin, beige, fluorescent beige, bitch, I’m Black” remains a highlight. Then, from action to active campuses and comedy, the track winds down with the singer wrapping up in an oversized giant duvet spread. Next up, ‘Alien Superstar’ continued the singer’s rule of utilitarian sci-fi sisterhood and genius aesthetics.  

A shortened sequence of songs – thanks to an earlier stadium curfew – made way for a tweaked setlist but at no cost of excellence. ‘Cuff It’ and ‘Energy’ transformed the venue into a mega-club that paid homage to queer excellence and creativity. An extraordinary performance of ‘Break My Soul’ was an eagerly-awaited jigsaw piece to a stage, and discography, of magnificence. The club-culture banger saw Beyoncé and her quick-limbed entourage take over a circle runway, which housed Club Renaissance fans, to amp up the performance. If this wasn’t enough, the main stage opening house a graceful, glistening horse statue. Yes, really. Before you, Beyoncé’s legacy playbook eclipsed the queer community as the show’s rich, expressive spirit zapped us between killer tunes from the dance-fuelled Renaissance.  

As the voyage to the future zoomed on, the travelled discography took a glance back with crowd-ready anthems ‘Formation’, ‘Diva’, and Run the World (Girls)’ in a specular medley of hits. Up-and-coming icon Blue Ivy temporarily steals the show in a guest appearance for ‘My Power’ and ‘Black Parade’. Matching her mother’s metal-suited kit, the pair pause, briefly, to action a clenched fist in a showcase of Black pride and power. While the setlist had been shaved down, the feel-good ‘Savage’ cover-turned-remix thankfully made the cut. The grandeur, however, doesn’t end there, either. For ‘Partition’, a mega-sized car that carefully edged forwards onto the stage. A stage prop that would have been encore-ready for anywhere else flamboyantly fit as a mid-number prop flex for Beyoncé. 

The latter part of the show gives space for crowd contributions and dance numbers. ‘Get Me Bodied’ held a reminder of how in-sync the singer was with her dance group while ‘Love On Top’ was a powerful performance of vocals and crowd contributions. The show, itself, harks back to the queer greats that made Renaissance and queer expression what it is. While the singer doesn’t quite give Pride Month a shout-out, her intention is clearly outlined. As voguing dance moves litter the runway and a flurry of bold, bright lighting washes through the setlist, the gestures meet us all halfway.

Closing out, Beyoncé’s triage of tunes (‘America Has A Problem’, ‘Pure/Honey’, and ‘Summer Renaissance’) bookend a setlist that continually delivers. Atop a floating, grand silver horse, the singer transforms into a camped-up, theatrical vision and sets the dancefloor alight. As club disco beats ebbed away and the final flutters of silver-streaked confetti hit the floor, there was a feeling of possibility and pride. In a time when queerness remains criticised, Beyoncé extends a bejewelled invite to her rhythmic, shiny world — and it was unforgettable.

GAY TIMES rating: ★★★★★