July 21--Beyonce looked every bit the superstar in front of a capacity crowd Saturday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
In a kinetic show of muscular dance moves, dazzling lights and blockbuster hits, the 31-year-old dynamo closed the sale on one of the summer's most-anticipated concerts.
There's an assertive, triumphant feel to this Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, down to stage-floor fans that kept Beyonce's hair continuously blowing back with a kind of epic-film flourish. A decade into her solo career, Beyonce arrived at the Palace a fully crowned pop queen, a status she would play up during the regal video sequence accompanying "Freakum Dress."
The show capped a busy day for the R&B diva: She hit the Auburn Hills stage just hours after appearing with hubby Jay Z at a New York rally for Trayvon Martin.
The Palace show fell midway through the first U.S. leg of her global tour, following two months of European dates. It found Beyonce and her cast of dancers and musicians in a tight, polished run of form, confidently running on all cylinders.
"Party" found her dancers surrounding her with feathers like Vegas showgirls; "Why Don't You Love Me" was an ebullient ensemble piece, complete with a band breakdown and a popping performance by the French dancing twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois.
"Crazy in Love" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" brought things to a crescendo late in the show, before Beyonce emerged backlit by a lone spotlight as she segued "I Will Always Love You" into "Halo."
But if there was a defining through-line to the show, it was hard to spot: The night was more like an array of discrete musical sequences, broken up by wardrobe interludes with video segments and solo sequences from her dancers.
On a platform at the rear of the stage, her longtime band of female musicians -- Suga Mama -- personified the girl-power mantra that has long been part of Beyonce's messaging. Players and singers periodically made their way down front to join the star, and the sparks that came flying from Bibi McGill's guitar accentuated a "Freakum Dress" production so surreal and over the top you could only smile.
Often performing before a stage-wide screen busy with flashy visuals, Beyonce revisited her 10-year solo catalog with a particular emphasis on the 2011 album "4."
"This is not the show for you to sit down," she told the crowd early on. "This is not the show for you to relax."
They didn't need the prodding. This was a show whose energy rarely flagged, and even when the mood softened, the presentation didn't: The big ballad "1+1" found Beyonce draped across a baby grand piano, writhing in a sparkling jumpsuit, in one of the rare numbers to showcase a full vocal workout.
Moments later, she was strapped into a harness by her dancers and lofted across the arena to a round second stage, inches from fans in the evening's first real dose of intimacy. That's where the show truly hit high gear, as Beyonce jammed through a stretch that included "Irreplaceable" (complete with singing contributions from audience members), a propulsive "Survivor" and one of the night's strongest performances -- the warm soul-pop of "Love on Top."
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