BEYONCE Chicago 5.27.2016
by Kai EL’ Zabar
The tickets read plain and clear “Rain or Shine,” and though Chicagoans are known to brave the harshest of weather, it was hard to imagine Beyonce performing in the rain because of the wetness of the stage floor. Still the prediction was what it was; “Possible thunder storms, showers throughout the afternoon through the evening of Beyoncé’s Formation Tour opening night Friday, May 27 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Ticket buyers were warned no umbrellas, allowed so take your rain poncho.
We arrived early at 6:00, no traffic, easy drop off, easy access to seats, great view and the sky was clear. So far so good. We believed that the rain had passed us by. Concert time was scheduled for 7:30 pm. We could see that the stage was still wet as the stagehands worked to clear it from puddles that pooled in various areas. At 7:30 seats were oddly still empty yet it was a sold out concert. Had people, chosen to avoid the rain, were they trapped in traffic? The delay was short lived as suddenly it seemed that at the bat of an eye the crown filled the seats and at 7:40 the show began.
Just as Chicago rapper, Jay-Z signee, Vic Mensa took stage, Queen Bey’s hive started to buzz and the stadium was full. Mensa performed a couple of quick songs for his homeys gifting it with Sixteen Shots, a powerful rendition of LaQuan MacDonald’s death by 16 bullets. Riveting. It got the crowd up and ready.
The surprise appearance of the Roc Nation rapper’, was followed by ‘No Type’ Atlanta rap duo Rae Sremmurd took stage. High voltage is all I have to say about these two. They have big energy together filling all the space. They performed several of their fan favorites for the Chicago crowd, including ‘Throw Some Mo’ and ‘No Flex Zone’ as they ran the stage length and width formation jumping rapping. They don’t dance but their movement is entertaining and their message is strong. Interestingly, the highlight of their performance was the video portraying Donald Trump burning in his rant of Trumpisms looking very much like the devil. Throughout their performance intermittently Rae Sremmurd sung out, “The rain can’t stop us!,” then invited the queens in the audience to show what they got—to “Twerk” and they did, sitting, standing, in the aisles and on the field.
As they excited the stage, the sky darkened and the dialog on the lips of everyone was ‘the rains coming’ while others were in denial, “no the rain passed over, it’s not going to rain.” Then the crowd screamed as down came the rain pouring upon a prepared Chicago crowd who whipped out their rain ponchos in multiple colors of red, yellow, green, blue and clear. Others had makeshift ponchos from garbage bags and a few had snuck in umbrellas, but no one left.
Panic. Is it going to stop? Will Beyonce perform? One hour later as the rain slowed to a drizzle, the stage crew back on their job got the stage ready, which was shaped like a capital “I,” with two huge video screens to the right and to the left. Center stage was a Rectangular cube, which looked like a white light box. Without further ado, music began and video images appeared on the screens and the 100+ foot video cube, which actually revolved and created larger than life images of Queen Bey herself. The image of an unfolding orchid later appears throughout the evening covering Beyoncé’s mouth. Art or message? Go figure. The crowd screamed with elation, stood to their feet (never to sit again) as the anticipation was heightened. And then there she was, Beyonce with her backup dancers in formation strutting down the stage in sexy black dramatic leotards and jazzy laced stockings as the screams filled the stadium, to no other than her Lemonade album, ‘Formation’. Bigger than life Beyoncé’s image appeared behind herself on the mesmerizing cube, revealing the on-point “Formation” dance choreography, poetically yet with military precision. It was an awesome kick-off for what was to come.
And after “Formation,” Queen Bey moved right to her newest single, ‘Sorry’, a track made famous partially due to rumors of Jay-Z’s cheating (but don’t you believe it cause Jay –Z ain’t crazy just Crazy in Love with Mrs. Carter), but curious minds do want to know, who the hell is “Becky with the good hair.”
Flowing gracefully and with fluidity Beyonce took a moment to thank Chicagoans for coming out and their patience, and commented on the beauty of the rain, “Isn’t the rain beautiful?” she asked looking up into the sky with wonder and appreciation of nature. Yes the rain had begun again, lightly barely noticeable, yet very much a part of the evening—Beyonce’s performance and resilience as a skilled entertainer. “You met me 19 years ago with Destiny Child and I want to thank you for allowing me, to grow doing what I love and for your continued support. I am here only because of you,” her majesty said to a crowd of mushy fans.
There were so many dynamic moments throughout the evening that highlighted why it was so worth it to hang out in the rain with Beyonce. My favorite moments; one, when she invited the fans to do a duet with her as she sung “Love On Top.” The lights dimmed and the spotlight was on Beyonce, no instruments, no dancers, and no backdrop of videos on the six-story video tower. It was just Beyoncé singing alone in duet with her fans, as she owned the catwalk through the rainfall. The soaked crowd continued to sing after Beyonce had ended the song and she stood smiling at those who adore her as they carried on with another verse. With a huge smile she said, “Now this time you really have to end it.”
If you weren’t paying attention you may have missed that the entire show, dancers, back-up singers and the band were female. Oh my God! Ms. Bey, talk that talk, and walk the walk, “We rule the world,” she said. Well. She delivered the baddest version of a do-si-do ever during “Run the World (Girls).” She and the girls got down on “Hold Up dressed in very girlie white laced leotards, while only Beyonce wore knee high boots. They danced their behinds off and slow pimp walked. She’s bad!
My second favorite moment was the silhouette of Beyonce captured on the cube solo, singing in the rain. It made for such a beautiful image as she sung a song about love, forgiveness, and loving yourself. Loved her rendition of “Me, Myself and I.”
My third favorite was, “Daddy Lessons,” I came into this world Daddy’s Little girl. Daddy made a soldier out of me. . . Daddy with his head held high, Daddy with his gun. Daddy said shoot.” Beyonce, owned this song as she embraced the love for a father by a Daddy’s Girl.
And then she sang ,“Purple Rain, to honor Prince as she fell to her knees when we thought it couldn’t get any better. But the water dance was amazing as if the rain knew that it would be premiered . . . “I’m a Survivor”
A+ goes to Mrs. Carter, who advised all women to be their own best friend and to look in their hearts, listen to God and then be. We hear you Ms. Beyonce, Queen Bey, Mrs. Carter and yes Sasha Fierce!