Nothing about ‘The Formation World Tour’ is small-scale. Beyoncé only plays stadiums these days, so she’s built a live show that’s fit for purpose: sleek, spectacular and celebratory. Here are 10 times she smashed it during last night’s sold-out show at Wembley Stadium in London.
1. “OK ladies, now let’s get in formation,” Bey sings on opening number ‘Formation’, and her fierce squad of female backing dancers do just that. Except for some stripped-down numbers which Bey performs solo, the dancers flank her throughout the show, providing a strong visual shorthand for the songs’ feminist themes. And Bey’s routines, by the way, are incredible.
2. While performing ‘Sorry’, a highlight from this year’s ‘Lemonade’ album, Beyoncé pauses knowingly after delivering the much-discussed “Becky with the good hair” line. The crowd roars in approval, and she accepts their cheers with a defiant smile.
3. Tonight’s set-list is rightly dominated by tracks from ‘Lemonade’ and 2014’s game-changing self-titled album, but whenever Beyoncé segues into an earlier hit like ‘Baby Boy’ or ‘Naughty Girl’, it’s a welcome reminder of her back catalogue’s enviable depth.
4. Beyoncé is sometimes accused of being over-controlled, but her incendiary, head-banging performance of ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ – the Jack White-assisted stomper from ‘Lemonade’ – shows she can really rock out when she wants to.
5. Bey is so huge now that she doesn’t need to do interviews, which can make her seem a little distant and at times, untouchable. But she humanises herself beautifully tonight by telling a sweet story about being inspired by the first gig she ever went to, which happened to be a Michael Jackson show.
6. She also delivers an emotional cover of ‘The Beautiful Ones’ in tribute to another departed pop icon, Prince.
7. And there’s an appreciative wink to the UK grime scene when Bey busts some moves to Skepta and JME’s ‘That’s Not Me’ during her ‘Diva’ dance break.
8. When Beyoncé begins singing the sultry remix of ‘Crazy In Love’ that she recorded for the Fifty Shades Of Grey soundtrack in 2014, it’s not hard to detect a collective sense of, “Oh FFS, can’t she just do it properly?” But then, a minute or so later, those familiar horns kick in and we’re suddenly enjoying the thrilling original version of ‘Crazy In Love’. Bey has wrong-footed us all brilliantly.
9. It’s getting harder to wow crowds with pop show pyrotechnics and clever set design, because most of us are a bit spoiled these days, but when she turns the B(ey) stage into a giant paddling pool for an awesome final sequence that includes ‘Freedom’, ‘Survivor’ and ‘End Of Time’, it’s a properly jaw-dropping moment.
10. She ends with a stirring version of ‘Halo’ that obviously gets the whole crowd singing along. Not for the first time tonight, she’s commanding the whole of Wembley Stadium single-handed, and we’re reminded of something she told us earlier in the evening: “I’m a star, because I slay.”
‘The Formation World Tour’ continues its UK and Ireland leg with shows in Manchester (July 5), Glasgow (July 7) and Dublin (July 9).