This June, Destiny's Child announced their plans to break up at the close of their current world tour. This Saturday night in Vancouver was the blockbuster R&B/pop trio's final performance, and with it came several costume changes and a powerful set of non-stop hits.
One thing that came as no surprise was the fact that a tour titled Destiny Fulfilled . . . And Lovin' It would unfortunately be jam-packed with advertisements: Mickie D's and Tommy Hilfiger ads, featuring the ladies front and center in each, appeared in the glossy program guide, while commercials for Gummie Bears appeared on the projection screens before the show. (The evening's one sour note occurred near the close of the night, when the trio sang a scripted fast-food jingle, bringing new meaning to the term "bad taste.")
But, product placement aside, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Beyonce Knowles kicked off the night in great form. With their sparkly costumes blowing in the wind machine, the resplendent three launched into a gospel-influenced version of "Say My Name." Not surprisingly, Beyonce took an early lead in the vocal Olympics, belting out her solos in near-religious fashion. Opening and closing the number a cappella, the trio's flawless harmonies showed the level of perfection that come with natural-born talent plus fifteen years of relentless hard work.
Blazing through their first twenty-minute set, Destiny's Child powered through their hits "Independent Women", "Bills, Bills, Bills" and an amped-up "Bootylicious," creating the first crowd explosion of the night. Beyonce's delight was evident as her beaming smile was splayed over the three large projection screens.
As the ladies took their first clothing change, a group of trench-coat hardbodies took the stage, each performing a solo dance routine designed to show off his oiled-down eight packs. Once Destiny's Chippendales finished their dirty dancing, the girls returned to play a drumline-affected version of "Soldier" for the delighted, largely female crowd. Rowland switched the mood from frenzied to lovelorn, launching into her solo hit "Dilemma"; judging by the exaggerated theatrics, it was apparent that the singer is lining herself up to become Diana Ross' heir apparent. She forayed midstream into the Supremes classic "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and even quoted Ms. Ross directly.
As could be expected, Beyonce was unquestionably queen of the night; the entrance for her solo mini-set was an over-the-top confirmation of that fact. Carried out under a parasol by two dancers, the singer was surrounded by a Cleopatra-style entourage, one of whom bent down dramatically to place a pair of shoes on her feet. It was a deliciously camp moment that would make Cher (and her many drag-queen impersonators) jump for joy. As Beyonce belted out a pair of mega-hits, "Baby Boy" and "Naughty Girl," the place again erupted, and the energy in the stadium moved up yet another notch. It should be noted that in this age of lip-synch tolerance, the women didn't fake a single lead vocal all evening, each giving 100 percent all night.
As hit after hit kept coming, one constant was clear above all others: Beyonce sang more brilliantly, radiated more energy and was, ultimately, the one you just couldn't take your eyes off of, singing or not. The evening's penultimate goose-bump moment occurred during her solo performance of "Dangerously in Love," as she seemed acutely aware, for the first time that night, that this was the final date on the last-ever Destiny's Child tour. Changing up the words, Beyonce sang "Kelly, I love you" and "Michelle, I love you", cracking her perfectly maintained exterior at the song's end, when she held her hands up to her eyes to cover welling tears.
After a momentary pause, Beyonce then launched into a one-two punch of "Crazy In Love" and, rejoined by her soul sisters, the empowering "Survivor", which carried the energy in the arena to its summit. After a long ovation, the girls returned for their encore, "Lose My Breath," dressed down in jeans, white T-shirts and bare feet. As the end approached, there still wasn't much of a reference to the finality of it all -- until the background dancers brought out flowers for the three, propelling the trio into a long embrace.
While taking their bows, Kelly finally broke into tears, saying, "I love you. You are my angels. I love y'all so much," her voice cracking while she motioned to her groupmates. Beyonce, ever the professional, looked to the audience and simply stated, "We don't wanna get too mushy, ya'll . . . Destiny's Child started when we were nine years old. This isn't something somebody put together. This is love."