By Lori Tannis
Where do I begin?
Last night was the final show of Beyonce’s six month Formation World Tour at MetLife Stadium, and I would not be able to fully describe the night if I didn’t start from the beginning. The very beginning.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal, in mid-Manhattan.
As I’m waiting in line for my bus ticket, I couldn’t help but feel the energy and intensity of the other patrons. It was electrifying. We weren’t lining up to just attend a Beyoncé concert, we were lining up to be a part of a movement, an experience, a moment in history. There was an excited sense of urgency, and anxiousness within the line, but the message was clear, we must all be ready to show up, and show out, and most importantly: slay, Bitch.
And slay they all did.
From a cute 6 year old in all pink, to an 80 something year old woman with the most amazing orange bob, Beyonce’s fans are a wide spectrum of men and women from all backgrounds, sexual preferences, and ages. They spared no expense to adorn themselves appropriately for an evening with the Queen, from thigh high boots, to grey lemonade sweatshirts, Beyoncé would eventually thank the crowd several times during the night, and one time specifically for “dressing up.”
But the line for the bus was long, and nerve-wracking. Would I make it on time? In fear of missing even one second of the show I hopped out of the bus line and jumped into an Uber with two other ladies standing in front of me.
We arrived, and that excited, anxious, urgent feeling has intensified. It’s like a thick layer of unspoken energy, and maybe even a bit of nervousness. It’s 9 pm now, what if she’s coming out soon? Everyone was scrambling to get into the stadium and to their seat. I bid the two ladies farewell and good luck. It felt like Star Wars, as if I was going on a serious mission and telling them “May The Force Be With You.” I sprinted across the stadium parking lot, picked up my ticket, and quickly rushed into my section. As I walk in, I noticed the vibe was on fire!
The crowd was lit!
From the fashion, to the hair and makeup, everyone carefully put themselves together as if Mrs. Carter has personally chosen them to hang with her after the show. Not only that but there’s a confidence and a certain swag that each of these concert goers had. They each were prepared to perform just as much as the Queen herself.
I was in my seat, and was lucky enough to manage to grab a beer before she went on. All of sudden a helicopter appears above and its flying quite low and close to stadium. Of course, the crowd went wild.
“OMG, that’s some real Diana Ross s—!” says one excited onlooker.
Could it be her? At this point I didn’t know what to expect, but was very eager to find out. Soon enough, the stadium went dark, the helicopter was out of sight, and a ginormous LED square box screen on the stage lights up.
The crowd went absolutely insane.
OMG. Here we go.
We were greeted with larger than life visuals with matching out of this world surround sound.
The music started. Her dancers came out on both sides of the stage, smoke was everywhere and the screams of excitement were at an all time high. It’s show time! Suddenly, coming up from inside the bottom of the stage, there she was, in the flesh, in the perfect yellow pants suit and signature large brimmed black hat. She opens with “Formation,” and my jaw hit the floor. I wasn’t screaming, I wasn’t jumping, I wasn’t dancing. In fact I didn’t move. I was in complete and utter shock. Mouth open, eyes peeled, body frozen, and the night had just begun.
The show would continue on, and Beyoncé would go into “Sorry” bringing out her friend, the uber talented Serena Williams, who is also featured dancing in the song’s music video. Of course the crowd went crazy and loved the black glittery leotard that she was rockin’.
After that she went into “Run The World” and “Mine.” The angelic visuals unfolded across the gigantic LED box screens, while it opened up to reveal a few dancers beautifully hanging from the top. It’s surreal, every moment was wonderfully crafted to dazzle the eye. The sound design was insanely on point, and I was still frozen with my mouth on the ground.
Beyoncé continued mixing in classics like “Baby Boy” with her more recent hits. There’s a story being told in her music: of growth, maturity, womanhood, black pride, curiosity, confidence, heartbreak, family, wisdom, and love. As she pointed out last night, she has been sharing her music and able to perform for “20 years now.” Many of us met her when she was just 15, with Destiny’s Child.
She gave a special message for every woman at MetLife last night. “There’s no such thing as a weak woman,” she told us. “You’re born strong.”
She did a small section of ballads, one of which she said is her favorite song off Lemonade, “All Night.”
We’d rock out to a slew of consistent jams after the ballads. It was hit after hit after hit.
Her guitarist from her all female band came out and did a solo reminiscent of Jennifer Batten (the guitarist from Michael Jackson’s ’90s touring band) before rolling into “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” It’s easy to see that Bey is influenced by only the greats: Michael, and Prince, who she later played tribute to by playing “Purple Rain,” beneath a purple screen.
The crowd was in a trance of sorts the entire time. We were up when she’s up! Down when she’s down. Quiet when she’s introspective, and crazy nuts when she’s going HAM with her dancers.
So it was only right that the crowd had yet another reason to go insane when her husband, Jay Z, joined her on stage for his verse on “Drunk In Love.” It’s an instant crowd pleaser seeing these two in action, vibing off each other on stage. He was our second surprise guest, and at this point, I was even more excited to see who else she may have had waiting in the wings.
We were more than half way through, rocking to every beat, hanging on every word, wink, pose, and nod she threw at the crowd. For “Partition” and “6 Inch” she once again grabbed hold of the crowd with the use of this insanely large, LED screen that really became one the characters in this theatrical experience. Beyoncé and a few dancers came out in what looked like large shipping boxes, but blown up on the screen it was transformed into a modern day peep show experience, with boxes opening and closing, and lights shining into one box, and then another, each with a dancer inside. It was a unique and colorful way to play with light, and sound, two other major elements which played huge roles in last night’s performance. Accompanied with fireworks, and large powerful bursts of upward shooting fire balls, her shows are undeniably the best in the game right now.
She also just so happened to be wearing a gold shiny Ivy Park dress bringing the brand that is Beyoncé, the huge empire that it is, full circle. And why not wear your own brand on the last day of what has been considered your best tour, ever?
She didn’t stop there, when she performed Kanye-produced track “Party,” it was exactly that. Confetti burst out of somewhere, I couldn’t tell you were, and what looked like quick fire flames came bursting out of her eyes from the large image of her on the screen. It was a fun, everyone was dancing, and having a real party.
If it wasn’t enough for Serena and Jay to hit the stage, B added one more celebrity to the list by bringing out Kendrick Lamar for their track “Freedom”. He electrified the audience and brought the house down when they performed together, dancing in a shallow pool of water on stage. All I could think was, how did they get that there? Like pretty much everything I saw last night, how did she do that, how does she do that?
Besides the few short on stage modifications that would take place; hair getting fluffed, face being pat down, water given to keep her hydrated, I couldn’t help but wonder… How does she do it? I think we all have looked at Beyoncé over the years and wondered… How in the world is she able to do it all? Truth is she’s human like you, and me, bleeds the same, hurts the same, rejoices the same. But a key is her ability to keep working, keep moving, tackle whatever it is in her way, and get past it, then on top of all that, share her world with millions of people through the use of sound and image. What more can we ask for? Her energy, her passion, her soul, was out on that stage last night for all to experience and for all to remember.
Near the end she thanked everyone that had a hand in making the show come alive night after night. We even got to the see the production team and engineers up on the big screen waving hello as she thanked them. She kissed each dancer on stage, thanked them for their tireless nights, as well as her band, background singers, and “every camera operator and sound guy.” As she ended the show with “Halo” and had a quick moment of fighting back tears as this was the last show in an incredible world tour, she told us all “until the next tour,” and just like that, she was gone. The lights went up, and the same crowd that went from anxious and giddy at Port Authority, was now satisfied and on a complete high. I looked up at the stands, sad it was over. But like she told us, until the next tour, and I can’t imagine what her next project will be, and what more of herself she’s preparing to share with the world.
Until then, I’m patiently waiting, in “Formation,” of course.