In a spectacular, highly energetic performance that was at times reminiscent of the recently departed “King of Pop,” musical sensation Beyoncé wowed fans Monday, June 29 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise.
The two-hour concert featured “B” doing what she does best, incarnating her sultry alter-ego “Sasha,” owning the stage with her trademark swagger and intensity; and showcasing her powerful vocals without missing a note, often while engaged in vigorous, perfectly executed dance moves.
After Michael Jackson, ‘B’ is arguably the second most popular black performer in the world, (sister Janet rivaled in her heyday). Knowles’ racially diverse audience looked a whole lot like an MJ crowd.
Unlike the Black Entertainment Awards last Sunday, June 28, which completely altered its program to honor Michael Jackson – and in the process diminished the show’s freshness and quality – ‘B’ kept the tribute to a minimum: a spontaneous “Long live the king,” and a brief guitar riff from “Beat It.”
While a short medley of Jackson’s hits would’ve been nice, the omission was probably a welcome respite to still-shocked, coverage-weary fans.
Some in the crowd drew parallels between “B” and Jackson.
“He’s been such a huge influence on her. You see it in her work ethic,” said Rudo Nightingale, a 23-year old singer from New York.
And work she did.
“B” leaves her contemporaries in the dust – no one, not Britney, not Ciara and not Rihanna can offer what she does – a complete package of voice, moves and presence.
After belting out a few lines of “Deja Vu,” she got the crowd moving with the infectious “Crazy in Love,” and “Naughty Girl.”
Backed by a tight, all-female band, “B” moved through songs from her three solo projects, thrilled the crowd with a brief Destiny’s Child medley, and masterfully covered portions of unexpected numbers, including Sarah McLaughlin’s “In the Arms of an Angel” and Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.”
Angel Perez, 54, and his close friend, Sandra Gonzalez, flew in from San Juan, Puerto Rico to attend their first Beyoncé concert, which Perez summed up as “Outstanding.”
Gonzalez said, “She’s such a beautiful person,” apparently moved by “B’s” efforts to connect with her fans. A part of that connection included having the singer hoisted by ceiling wires and going airborne as she made her way to a much smaller stage midway through the arena.
There, the size of the stage could not contain “Sasha,” who gave the surrounding fans a lengthy up close and personal front-row experience. Knowles kept the banter to a minimum, giving her fans what they came for – a complete, utterly sensational performance.
“I can see all of your faces. I can feel all of your energy,” she told adoring fans as she pointed out a few by the color of their clothes.
The show included several costume changes, thankfully quick, one even occurring subtly on stage. When Knowles wasn’t on the stage, her trio of voluptuous background singers kept the audience entertained by singing lush harmonies and flirting with male audience members.
Lithe, professionally train-ed dancers more than held their own with Knowles, whose effortless execution embodies confidence and exudes soul, (long story short, the girl can dance.)
Rounding out the high-energy show with ballads further demonstrated that this 27-year old is in a class by herself. In a perfect melding of past and present, Knowles sang “At Last,’’ accompanied by video images of civil rights era footage and snippets from her performance of the song in the movie, Cadillac Records.
The beautifully edited video culminated with footage of the massive inaugural crowd on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and the first couple being serenaded by Knowles’ rendition of the Etta James classic.
Beyoncé’s latest release from her I Am CD is “Ego,” which includes the line, “I walk like this cause I can back it up.”
She can safely substitute the word “walk” with “sing” or “dance” because Knowles has earned the right to brag.
Besides, as the saying goes, “It ain’t bragging when it’s true.”