How does a queen get in formation? First, she books 41 concerts across 15 countries. She then fills 36,742 seats in the 305 on opening night. Three days before showtime, she drops a 12-song album and hour-long movie and causes a sonic boom online. She incites thousands of conspiracists to tear up the Internet and says not a single word. She performs more than 30 songs in two hours and whips fiercely through six costume changes with the support of 16 backup dancers. There's only one woman that could pull all this off and come off so, to quote Beyoncé Knowles herself, "flawless."
Beyoncé stunned Miami Wednesday on the opening night of her Formation World Tour. Marlins Park was packed with adoring fans across a spectrum of ages, genders, sexualities and lifestyles. Hubby Jay Z and old Destiny's Child pal Michelle Williams were also in attendance. The screaming hoard was amazed, aroused and inspired, but if anyone came looking for controversy or hoped for another spin of the rumor mill following the incendiary, infidelity-themed Lemonade, those nosy creatures must have left disappointed.
There was no police boycott as had been threatened in February. The powerhouse pop phenom, whose marriage has become the object of intense scrutiny since Saturday's Lemonade release, dedicated her final song, "Halo," to her family, the memory of Prince, God and her "beautiful husband." Even the line "Becky with the good hair," the jumping-off point for so many questions and concerns, was delivered twice in a row with hardly an ounce of venom or ceremony.
What fans did walk away with was a prime example of entertainment and a vision of an artist at her apex. Even before Yoncé stormed the stage, the evening was certified massive. Snapchat mastermind and loudmouth Miami champion DJ Khaled warmed the audience with a star-studded performance that jammed seven special guests – Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Yo Gotti, Trick Daddy, Lil Wayne, Kent Jones and Future – into a rapid-fire 30 minutes.
Bey took the stage 45 minutes later. The glow of a giant, rotating obelisk and thousands of cell phones pierced the dark sky. Illuminati she's not, but she does have good weather karma. Not a drop of rain or gust of unruly wind marred the electric atmosphere. As she opened with titular anthem "Formation," her hair blew wildly in manufactured air as her black lace get-up glittered under the spotlight.
Throughout the performance, she epitomized dichotomy. Onstage, Beyoncé embodies both the masculine and the feminine, softness and strength, innocence and wisdom. She's the only artist in her class who can whisper a vengeful curse, turn to belt a wail of sorrow, then melt into a girlish giggle and have you believe every moment. No wonder fans can't help but find Lemonade both emotionally powerful and utterly confusing.
That mix of raw talent and ethereal mystery is why no one can look away, and it was on glorious display Wednesday as she drove through nearly 20 years of hits. A particularly powerful moment came halfway through the show with Lemonade's harrowing spurned-lover anthem "Don't Hurt Yourself." Beyoncé sang into the mic, swaying side to side in a long fur coat bathed in red lights while images of fire burned up the tall screen behind her. The giant obelisk onstage then split in half to reveal a shower of gold sparks. It was a passionate moment, though not overwhelmingly angry. Soon after, a throne emerged from behind the sparks, and the queen took it, singing a devilish minute of the Doors' classic "Five to One." "No one here gets out alive," she roared.
Throughout the show, the master performer threw her whole body into each movement, imbued each lyric with a piece of her soul, and the audience was at her command. When she asked "who run the world," the men in attendance yelled "girls." She told the crowd that her favorite song from Lemonade is "All Night," and as she sang the line "baptize your eyes and dry your tears," the arena turned into a church.
The show was a visual feast as well as an emotional tour de force, packed with fireworks, confetti, rearranging stage designs and aerial dancers. Two talented fans joined Beyoncé onstage to perform the iconic "Single Ladies" dance routine. She paid homage to Prince by leaving the stage and letting "Purple Rain" play. Her female drummer, guitarist and bassist all got a turn at a spotlight solo.
She made herself relatable when she shared footage from fans and intimate moments with her family. Then she wowed when the L-shaped catwalk filled with water, splashing the first few rows of fans as Bey and friends stomped and danced to "Freedom," "Survivor" and "Grown Woman."
The Lemonade album – all the chatter surrounding it – only confirm that Beyoncé has morphed from a smiley young entertainer into an era-defining artist before everyone's eyes. She's a strong woman, a devoted wife, a proud mother and a world-beating superstar about to smash a string of tour dates across the globe. Still, the best thing about Beyoncé is that she manages to seem incredibly humble.
"We were driving to rehearsal today and [Blue Ivy] said, 'Mommy, are we going to your work?' and it reminded me that I dreamed of this day my whole life," she related to the audience one quiet moment between songs. "You're witnessing my dream come true right now."
Really, Bey, it's our pleasure.
"Run the World (Girls)"
"Baby Boy"/"Standing on the Sun"
"Me, Myself and I"
"Runnin' (Lose It All)"
"Don't Hurt Yourself"
"Ring the Alarm"
"Naughty Girl"/"Independent Women, Part One" [dance break]
"Drunk in Love"
"Hip Hop Star"
"Purple Rain" (Prince cover)
"Crazy in Love"/"Bootylicious"
"Sweet Dreams"/"Sweet Dreams" (Eurythmics cover)
"End of Time"/"Grown Woman"