Beyoncé, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Photo: Jenn Five

Live review

Beyoncé, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

29th May 2023

The Alien Superstar opens her first night in London with a Tina Turner tribute and a ballroom bonanza.

The Overground train to White Hart Lane is abuzz with the tremulous drone of chatter. Three separate Americans in this carriage alone have flown to London to come to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. They are hooligans, but of a different kind: they’re part of the Beyhive, and they’re here to revel in the opening night of Beyoncé’s four-day ‘Renaissance’ residency.

The superstar’s show is ridiculous. That’s the only way to describe it, really. Did you imagine anything else? The amount of time, effort, money and talent it has taken to reach this level is so breathtaking that when she sings ‘Alien Superstar’, there’s little stretch of the imagination to believe it.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Beyoncé continues to be the eighth wonder of the world. The woman possesses so much vocal agility that she makes this calibre of singing look easy. She riffs effortlessly from a melismatic Arabic chant into a more gospel-inflected run - and that’s just warming up. For three hours, Beyoncé’s voice soars, growls, belts, simpers, all without missing a note. This is true for when she’s rapping, too; not a single line is skipped in the famous verse from ‘HEATED’, a truly impressive feat.

The show acts as an homage to Beyoncé’s various influences, some of which are planned and some more spontaneous. Sadly, Tina Turner passed recently, and tonight ‘Yonce treats London to a tribute cover of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’. She leaves ample time for her backup singers and dancers to shine, too. The choir sings a cover of Diana Ross’ ‘Love Hangover’, and the dancers partake in an entire voguing session near the end of the show. Daughter Blue Ivy also makes an appearance tonight, weathering social media comments about her stiffness to deliver a much looser routine with more swagger.

Beyoncé, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London Beyoncé, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

Tonight’s performance is a lesson in the power of creative direction. Every detail possible is attended to in order to recreate the hedonistic, Black queer utopia she envisioned in ‘Renaissance’ the album. The visual interludes are so intricate they would make a graphic design student cry; every act is a catwalk for the hottest haute couture.

Cleverly, Beyoncé has also shelled out for cameras that capture every angle of her face possible - one dangled precariously in the middle of a zipwire across the length of the stadium. There are robots whose sole purpose is to fan the superstar, and a giant glittering shell which Beyonce sings from (which alone probably cost a month of Blue Ivy’s pocket money).

From the opening pride flag to the closing photo of her late Uncle Johnny (of ‘HEATED’ fame), the Renaissance tour is a proud, overt dedication to the Black queers who made dance music. She brings opulence, grandeur and magnificence to Tottenham - but then again, who would expect anything less of Queen Bey.

Tags: Beyoncé, Reviews, Live Reviews

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