Beyonce slays rainy night in Edmonton

Beyonce GigCity EdmontonOf course Beyonce’s Formation tour began with the song called Formation – she and her dancers entered the stage at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night draped head to toe in sparkly black with tall felt pilgrim hats and Beyoncé warming the crowd up by getting people screaming, “I SLAY!”

And slay, Queen B did. The concert was a seamless blending of her work, and she brings the whole crowd with her. The BeyHive can follow Beyoncé’s work from Destiny’s Child to last month’s new album Lemonade.

The energy of the concert can only be described as feminine. Women had men outnumbered 10 to 1. Whole rows of women were wiggling along to the music, screaming out their love for the Queen.

The stage was flush with the crowd from the floor because Commonwealth Stadium is the worst place in Edmonton to go to a concert (there were actually guys trying to sell cotton candy walking through the crowd). Beyoncé may be larger than life, but in that junky stadium her and the dancers look like dots, even from the floor.

But, the flaws of the venue aside, Bey puts on a show so glittery you can forget that it’s raining.

A massive black rotating tower that split in to two sat on the center stage. Two screens plus the tower broadcast a mega screen of the show up to the nosebleeds, while also introducing special effects. During a costume change, Prince’s Purple Rain played with the tower turned into a purple backdrop – to the confusion of some of the younger ‘Yonce fans.

Beyonce GigCity EdmontonSome of the visuals were beautiful. There was rippling water and swimmers on the edges of the screen framing Beyoncé. Yet, at other times the effects seemed overdone and unnecessary. There were subdivided negatives projected on the screen during one song. It’s Beyoncé. When you go to a concert, all you really want to see is her.

For Beyoncé fans, there’s no getting around her very visceral, visual album Lemonade; it saturated the concert by small video or sound clips, and refracted all of her works like the rainbow light coming off a diamond.

Whatever this new album is about – and it seems like no one going to tell – the intimacy of the Formation tour invites speculation about what motivates Beyoncé, the artist. Her show is crafted to bring the personal on stage. Perhaps it is only women artists who come under scrutiny for writing songs that feature difficult relationships. The only time I remember a man’s song being picked apart for personal meaning was Justin Timberlake’s Cry me a River.

Still, the intimate touches Beyoncé brings to a show makes people feel like they’re part of the family. Pictures of Ivy and Jay-Z flash across the screen. Everyone cheers and says, “aww.”

No matter what album she pulled from, Beyoncé made the music feel fresh. Crazy In Love, now 13 years old, was sung while dancers strutted in red latex outfits and bright rows of lights flashed behind them.

There were parts of the show that seemed a little disingenuous. When Beyoncé asked for the “queens” in the audience to sing along to Bow Down, the song lacked a genuine fierceness. Other times, the show dripped with sincerity. When Beyoncé comes out to thank the crowd, it was genuine. Her sweetness shone through as she told everyone that they’re watching her dreams coming true.

She’s not afraid to talk to her audience. Later in the show she asks, “Can y’all feel your fingers? I can’t.”

Despite the visuals and the glitter cannons, what was surprising was that Bey spent a lot of time on the stage alone, singing. This created really poignant moments that overshadowed much of the lighter moments in the show.

The night concluded with the skies breaking open on the beautiful Beyoncé, who admitted that this was the coldest show she’d ever played. She sang Halo while the rain poured down, and her pure vocals ended the night on a beautiful and sultry note.

Photos by Daniela Vesco/Parkwood Entertainment