Today, June 26th 2011, Beyonce made history by being the first woman to headline the infamous Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
But of course she didn’t merely headline the stage – the second the singer hot-stepped her pair of sparkling black shoe boots onto it (to the opening track “Crazy In Love”) the signer rocked it in true Beyonce style; with roaring vocals, menacingly sexy moves and a gold and black ensemble, open at the crotch to reveal a svelte pair of thighs and tiny pair of pants.
Her usual all-female band (one piece of which, “Keisha” even gave an impressive sax solo) riled up the thousands of fans, who were pleased to see sequins, fireworks and curls fly everywhere over Beyonce’s electric opening performance, where she told the crowd “You’re witnessing my dream”.
“Single ladies” (perfect routine et al) followed as second in the live lineup, where the singer commanded the stage and the crowd who sang-a-long to a series of infectiously soulful “H-h-h-heys” and flapped their ringless hands to the close of the song.
Beyonce’s beautiful silhouette then slinked along the stage to “Naughty Girl” (reminiscent of the track’s video) and the singer seduced the mood as a snake charmer would a cobra from a basket; with gorgeous, prolonged and steady notes. This of course was broken by an up-tempo version of “Baby Boy” with singer Tricky, to which Bey wound the crowd as much as her waist before launching into a Dutty Wind.
“I still can’t believe I’m performing at Glastonbury – just give me one moment to soak this up. Thank you so much,” the ‘diva’ said, taking in the enormous crowd and electrifying atmosphere.
A piano (and a 175 thousand strong crowd) accompanied Beyonce in singing ‘Steve (Stout)’ – a friend of Bey’s is apparently a friend of Glasto-goers, too – Happy Birthday, as well as her new single, “The Best Thing I Never Had”.
Following the ballad with another track from the album 4, Beyonce marched into “The End of Time” with military-like choreography (queue more whips of hair, winds of waists and flailing – but still fierce – arms). The crowds particularly enjoyed Beyonce’s quick-stepping across the stage and up-tempo African-inspired moves, which ended in a firery, golden waterfall lightshow.
“If I were a Boy” saw the star buckled over and kicking her boots and shoulders in the rockstar rhythm she promised at the start of the set (“I’ve always wanted to be a rockstar. Tonight everyone’s a rockstar!”) and, mid-song and much to everyone’s surprise, Beyonce also belted out an utterly amazing rendition of Alanis Morisette’s “Outta Know”, wowing viewers with a literal rockstar impersonation.
Breaking back to the Bey we all know and love, “Sweet Dreams” featured next up on the night’s set list, but was also broken in the middle with a mash-up of Eurhythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” track – fitting for the event and venue.
Beyonce then sounded out an ever-so-funky “Why Don’t You Love Me”, which was layered down by her accompanying band of instrumental femme fatals, with hair styled as big as Bey’s and some rocking shades even bigger.
Trio of divas and Bey’s background singers The Mammas allowed the star a quick breather (no costume change though – mustn’t have wanted to rub it in the faces of the dishevelled, muddy and welly clad crowd…) with a three minute calling out from the stage to ‘drinkable’ men in the audience and a velvety version of “Love Hangover”. However, the songstress was back in full swing (“Y’all ready?”), flooring the crowd with her piano accompanied cover of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones”, which blurred into Kings Of Leon’s “Your Sex Is On Fire” and ended up with Beyonce kneeling atop the piano to begin “1+1”.
The constant crowd pleaser that is “Irreplaceable” appeared next, during which the audience did most of the heavy lifting till midway through when Beyonce picked it up and had some fun onstage, singing and waving to onlookers, telling everyone “You don’t know how beautiful y’all look.”
Taking another moment to talk to the crowd, Bey told the audience “I’ve done a lot of things in my life but I’ve never performed in front of 175,000 people”. Needless to say, you’d never have guessed it.
In the absence of her Destiny’s Child bandmates, Beyonce performed “Independent Women”, “Bootylicious” and “Bug A Boo”, and – sans Gaga – “Telephone”. Finishing off the burst of reminiscent Destiny’s Child hits, the singer also soloed her way through “Say My Name”, “Jumpin’ Jumpin’ ” and “Survivor”.
Slowing it down in the best way possible, the stage was dimmed for Beyonce’s performance of “At Last”, which she sung with her usual yet masterful ease (Etta James who?), before turning the tempo back up again with none other than her first release from her latest album, “Run The World (Girls)”, complete with routine.
“Halo” marked the end of Beyonce’s set, sung over a video montage of Glastonbury-goers enjoying the weekend – whom the star came out to meet and greet mid-song, singing inches away from lucky front row fans who reached out to touch her as she walked by.
At the close of the song, and the weekend, Beyonce disappeared off stage waving and smiling to the crowd, thanking them, wishing them a safe journey home and telling them “God bless you!” Likely feeling blessed to have bared witness to the event that was Beyonce at Glastonbury – the first female headliner for a quarter of a century – the audience was left dazzled and dazed by the storm in a set, Queen Bey.
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