NEW YORK — If God made a badder chick than Beyoncé, she must be behind the Pearly Gates entertaining Biggie and 'Pac, because right now there isn't one walking the Earth.
B took over the city this past weekend for a two-date conquest of Madison Square Garden. As the hook of the new hit record by Def Jam recording artists Dream goes, "Shawty is a 10." There are few (very few) ladies out there who can really sing, a lot who can dance, a lot more who look good — but really no other who can combine all three and add iconic star power like Miss Knowles, arguably the best all-around stage performer in the game right now.
Sunday night's show started with the lights going out, the screams turning on and a small square of the stage opening up. From below the stage, Beyoncé emerged in a sparkly silver dress with a long train. She walked to the front of the stage, did a couple of snaps of her neck and started "Crazy in Love."
While singing, she walked up a huge staircase where her all-female band and three backup singers were positioned. The staircase moved forward in two places, with the top part moving just a little while the bottom poked out more. At the very top of her staircase/mini-stage, she tore off her train and walked back down to the main stage. Her three backup singers came down as well and did the famous "uh-oh" dance with her.
"Crazy in Love" transitioned into a short rendition of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," with Beyonce singing, "Who do you, who do you think you are?/ Ha, ha, ha, bless your soul."
When the song was over, she asked one question: "Are you ready to be entertained?" Wait, what? You just left 20,000 people (both MSG shows were sold out) breathless, and there's more?
Later, during "Green Light," Beyoncé brought out her squad of six female dancers. All the women moved with the precision of a Navy Seal strike force, slaying the crowd with their synchronized dances.
The singer also gave her band time in the spotlight during various breaks in her show. There was the drummer, who played with one arm while drinking a bottle of water with the other; another drummer played blindfolded; and one of the bass players actually walked down to the main stage and riffed freestyles of a couple of records, including Jay-Z's "Ain't No N---a."
Beyonce returned wearing a belly-dancer-type outfit for "Baby Boy." She descended the staircase holding an umbrella and was met by three guys wearing fatigues. A short section of the reggae classic "Murder She Wrote" was incorporated into "Baby Boy." A microphone then came from the ceiling, Michael Buffer-style, for "Beautiful Liar," during which the Houston native paid homage to the song's co-star, Shakira, by shaking her hips rapidly. "Naughty Girl" closed out that brief section.
Beyonce also did snippets of Destiny's Child hits, such as "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "No, No, No."
For all the dancing she did, Beyoncé got an equally big — if not more resounding — response for displaying her undeniable vocal ability on the ballads "Me, Myself and I" (she sang a slower version than the two-step-friendly pace we all know) and "Dangerously in Love." Once again, she worked another singer's song into her act, this time it was Jill Scott's "He Loves Me."
A few minutes later was the moment: "Ring the Alarm." Not that anybody expected a misstep on the record, but the vision of her falling down the steps in Orlando, Florida, while performing the very same record a few weeks ago is still fresh in everyone's mind (see "YouTube Yanks Videos Of Beyonce's Tumble, Citing Copyright Infringement"). It made national headlines. But like Jay-Z joked on the radio the other day, it showed that while she's a great performer who's on point 99 percent of the time, she's still human.
So on Sunday she came out in the same long red overcoat we saw her wearing in that infamous footage. Not only was she able to walk down to the main stage, but in fact she jumped down the last few steps. No flaws! There were also no guest appearances from Jay-Z on records such as " '03 Bonnie & Clyde" and "Upgrade U."
"Get Me Bodied" was another roof-burner, with Beyoncé starting off in the robot outfit like she did at the BET Awards. This time, though, she was dressed in yellow and black like a bumblebee. She declared that she was the queen bee — or Queen B.
"Irreplaceable" ended the night, but before the main attraction crooned one note, she told the audience that she sang two hours for them and it was time they sang for her. So the whole Garden sang the first verse of the record; "To the left, to the left/ Everything you own in a box to the left/ In the closet, that's my stuff/ Yes, if I bought it, please don't touch."
Beyoncé herself officially closed out singing her own song though.
"She's just amazing, phenomenal," the tour's opening act, Robin Thicke, said on Monday (August 6). "Me and my whole crew, we're all blown away with what she can do. How she can sing, dance, it's ridiculous. She's a superstar, born and bred."
Thicke, who's developed a very strong following over the past year with his critically acclaimed The Evolution of Robin Thicke, is one opening act that you won't miss, if you're smart. The crowd at the Garden filed in early because no one was going to get cheated from seeing one of the most soulful singers out now.
"That's what a lot of New Yorkers are telling me," Thicke said about the fans not treating him like the regular opening act. "It made me feel real strong."
Thicke recently had his own headlining tour of smaller facilities and says he definitely has to bring more to the table for the arenas.
"In the smaller places, you have the chance to see and feel people's energy," Thicke said. "People get to share in it, it's a little more intimate. When you're in the arenas, you want to make sure it is as special as it is for the people in the back as it is for the people in the front. So you have to find a way to reach the people in the back with your energy. And when you're opening up for Beyoncé, you better not f--- up. You're in the big time now.
"It's a dream come true," he added. "You dream big, and some of your dreams come true. And you don't realize how big you were dreaming until it comes true. I'm just trying to take it serious enough to create magic. One day I'm going to be old and I want to tell my grandkids, 'I was hot. Look at your granddad when I was hot.' "
Thicke's stint at the Garden went over well. His album cuts got major help from the crowd as did his singles, such as "Lost Without U" and the finisher, "Wanna Love U Girl." He surprised people with some of his own dance moves.
"I try to include all the different sides of my personality into my music," he laughed.
The Beyoncé Experience runs through September.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.
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