“I want to celebrate tonight – are you ready to celebrate?” Beyoncé told her sold-out crowd in Brooklyn on Sunday night, grinning at the resulting shrieks. “This is not the show to be cool; I want you to get lost and dance like children.” The pop superstar would spend the next two hours singing, dancing and maturely gyrating at the Barclays Center, as the show marked the final North American date of her lengthy “Mrs. Carter World Tour.”
The upbeat setlist was heavy on her more recent hits – especially the chopped-and-screwed pop of 2011’s 4. She opened with “Run the World (Girls),” which gave way to the sultry “End of Time” and then moved to cuts from the bipolar double album I Am…Sasha Fierce. “If I Were a Boy” was crooned over the string refrain of the Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (courtesy of her all-female, 11-piece backing band), “Why Don’t You Love Me?” melted into a call-and-response funk flirtation and the smash single “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” inspired gleeful renditions of her iconic, hair-flinging choreography both onstage and off.
Of course, half the appeal of Beyoncé the artist (and her excellent, sensual new album Beyoncé) is the visual sumptuousness. Adding to the pageantry, pillars of fire and waterfalls of gold sparks shot from the stage in constant decadence. Eight costume changes alone served as their own workout; they skewed heavily toward glittering leotards, with one brief instance of a lime-green, leopard-spotted perplexity that suggested a seasick Kermit the Frog. But the highlight of it all came mid-set as she decided to fly, stepping into a harness and floating across Barclays’ sweaty troposphere to a B-shaped stage in the center of the floor. There, she hugged a toddler hoisted to her from the front row and offered the lone Destiny’s Child throwback, “Survivor.”
The tour closer offered only one Beyoncé song, the stadium-ready orchestral swoon of “XO.” The lone new track was delivered with visible emotion, and seemingly with a spontaneity absent from the rest of the precise operation. “It was written to my fans,” she told the crowd before leading them in the titular arm gestures of the charming Coney Island video, ribbons of spotlights fluttering around her. She followed with “Halo” and wished the audience a merry Christmas before yelling, “I’m officially off!” She threw up her hands in Jay Z’s Roc-A-Fella diamond, a final nod to her empowerment in their marriage at the palace he helped built, and strutted offstage to be Mrs. Carter for a smaller audience once more.
Here is Beyoncé’s set list:
“Run the World (Girls)”
“End of Time”
“If I Were a Boy”
“Get Me Bodied”
“Why Don’t You Love Me”
“Love on Top”
“Crazy in Love”
“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”