The release of Renaissance last year was a huge moment for Beyoncé fans. Her first solo album since Lemonade – with the Everything Is Love collaboration with her husband Jay-Z, and The Lion King compilation album sandwiched in-between – it was an album that was conceptualised during Covid when we were all in need of a dance. The result was a mammoth, disco-infused, album that, whilst future-facing, paid homage to the Black Ballroom culture of years gone by.
Floating up from beneath the stage on a dreamy cloud-like backdrop and slowly revealed on the big screen, Beyoncé emerged, glittering in a custom silver Paco Rabanne assemblage dress.
Opening with the title track of her debut album, Dangerously in Love, the cloud background pulled away and Beyoncé shimmered against a new and equally sequined silver backdrop. Her dancers and backing singers were adorned in the same material on the bleachers-style staging reminiscent of her 2018 Coachella headline set, which paid tribute to the HBCUs (Historically Black College and Universities) of America.
Beyoncé is performing at the Stade de France in Paris today.
The show is expected to break the record for the highest-grossing and most attended tour concert by a female artist. pic.twitter.com/AWUoVKNeSf
— Pop Tingz (@ThePopTingz) May 26, 2023
The first five songs showcased Beyoncé’s softer side, her impressive vocal range in ‘I Care’ and ‘1+1’, where she sat on a piano accompanied by her silver-haired pianist – a performing pose she’s struck since her Glastonbury headline in 2011.
With such a deep catalogue to choose from, the set could really have gone in any direction, the crowd gladly at the mercy of a cultural juggernaut. But Beyoncé chose to perform ‘Flaws and All’; an interesting choice in my opinion, having not performed this song since 2013, with it being a deluxe album track to her sophomore, B’Day. It was an easy way to decipher the truest fans from the mere hit-seekers, however. After this softer interlude, Sasha Fierce appeared and the rest of the show was a spectacle of music, dance and joy.
Beyoncé performed all sixteen songs from Renaissance, which was a real joy (although this is, after all, The Renaissance Tour). However, there is always a worry with artists as established as Queen Bey that concert-goers won’t have listened to the newest instalment in the artist’s repertoire. There were some fans who instead thought this would be a greatest hits tour.
Yet all of the Renaissance songs were vibrant, full of energy and excitement, with Beyoncé stating ‘Heated’ was her favourite song on the album and asking fans to help rap along (a tough feat with lyrics like “flip-flop, flippy, flip-floppin’-ass bitch”). Hearing ‘Cuff It’, the song of 2022’s summer, and its ‘Wetter Remix’, was another treat for hardcore fans, with this rendition only released in February.
Beyoncé a mis le feu au stade de France ce soir 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/5HBFtSvQPj
— HorizonHipHop (@HorizonHiphop) May 26, 2023
The staging was no doubt Beyoncé’s biggest and boldest yet. She balanced off a pole on a silver army tank, perched atop the gleaming horse from Renaissance’s album artwork and practically flew about the stadium to close it all off.
Familiar faces were there; there were no musical collaborators at this gig, but her eleven-year-old daughter Blue Ivy came out to dance with her and Les Twins, French dancers who have accompanied her for years, joined onstage, holding up a ‘Sarcelles’ French flag of their hometown.
I considered buying tickets again for a London show, but with remaining tickets only at the upper echelon of the price bracket, I decided to bask in the ‘Heated’ rapture of yet another sensational Beyoncé tour.