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Live Review: Beyonce – Monday 27th June 2011 – Shepherds Bush Empire

6 min read

Beyonce Knowles, or more simply Beyonce as the world has come to know her, is by no means a stranger to international adoration. The multiple Grammy Award winning songstress, at only 29 years of age, has already lived a fruitful life of lavish and acclaim in both her time in girl group Destiny’s Child, who swept the globe with groundbreaking singles that included among many Jumpin’, Jumpin’, Independent Women, Survivor and the trios signature hit Say My Name, but also as one of the most successful and talented solo acts in music history.

With enormous singles including Crazy In Love, Naughty Girl, Baby Boi and Work It Out all forming a strong backbone to the singers extensive catalogue of hits it was her third studio album, 2008’s I Am…Sasha Fierce, that further solidified Beyonce’s position within music’s most elite and prestigious. The album generated an enormous buzz around the icon who fronted a new power lady image and found further success with the records mammoth singles Single Ladies, If I Were A Boy, Why Don’t You Love Me, Halo, Sweet Dreams and the Lady Gaga collaborative hit, Videophone. The record also garnished Beyonce with eight Grammy nominations and five wins at last years awards.

BeyonceLiveShepherdsBushGroupAs was one of the lucky attendees to witness the soul queen grace the Pyramid Stage at Sunday nights Glastonbury Festival I was utterly blown away by the spectacle. Leaving me with a truly memorable experience of the weekend the 90 minutes shared with the American superstar was the highlight of the event and marked a personal achievement for the singer whose husband, Jay Z, filled the headlining spot at last years event. At Glastonbury we got to hear a few sneak peaks into the singers brand new fourth studio album, 4. A couple of the records ballads were performed at the festival as well as an up-tempo addition and they slotted into the rest of the set with perfectly fitting ease.

Heading out of the festival site on Monday we were invited to attend a very special performance by Beyonce in the very intimate surroundings of London’s Shepherds Bush Empire. The night was billed as the singers album launch of 4 and Renowned For Sound’s Brendon jumped at the opportunity to be a member of the very small crowd to see the singer do what she does so spectacularly.

We were originally told to be in the venue by 7.30 and after a long wait in the current London heatwave we were gradually ushered into the venue at just after 8.30. With TV crews snaking their way through the crowd for interviews with Beyonce fans, giant cameras at the ready, there were a lot of relieved faces.

With the stage set within the Empire’s relatively small confines, in comparison to the singer’s usual arena and stadium residencies, a giant image of the soul divas latest record was cast up to drive the audience wild with anticipation.

With tickets to the gig only available through competition wins and to members of the UK’s press the concert proved to be the hottest ticket in London.

The BBC’s CJ Beatz was on the decks and getting the crowd warmed up the audience gazed admirably as some of music and films A-Listers took to their seats on the first level. Among the celebrity fans were Adele, , funny man Alan Carr, Ewan McGregor, Beyonce’s mother Tina, Stella MCCartney, Tinie Tempah and a leg cast sporting Jessie J. It was however Beyonce’s hubby Jay Z and friend Gwyneth Paltrow who drew the biggest applause as they arrived together to support the leading lady.

Beyonce4As 10.20 approached the lights faded, cell phone cameras were at the ready and the curtains drew to show a spectacular stage set up, complete with full band and Beyonce standing centre stage in a seductive pose as the screams from her adorning fans reached ear splitting levels.

Throughout the hour long set we were offered superb performances of the singer’s many hits. She approached the night in request style, asking the crowd to shout out the songs they wanted to hear rather than perform to a set list which gave the event a very special feel.

The albums lead single Run The World (Girls) displayed Beyonce’s adamant statement of female empowerment as she strutted around the stage showing off some pulsating moves around a grime laden rhythm.

Heartfelt second single Best Thing I Never Had was delivered with pitch perfect artistry as the singer tells of breaking free from the constraints an unhealthy relationship.

Signalling the crowd with a well known hand gesture the crowd knew exactly what track was next as she roared into the phenomenal Single Ladies with her dancers by her side re-enacting every bit of detail and movement from the iconic video and provided the night’s biggest crowd pleasing moment as the singer made her way through the electrifying and quick paced dance routine while still singing each word with ease.

Another highlight of the evening came with End Of Time. The dance floor number was performed with the singers 4 female/2 male dancers gyrating around the stage and working up quite a sweat.

We were offered some ballads and a chance to sing along with the star on Irreplaceable. Listen, from the film Dreamgirls in which she played the lead actress proved a popular inclusion as did the closing of Halo where the singer took to the crowd moving her way from right to left giving her fans hugs and handshakes while husband Jay Z looked over protectively to make sure the singer was taken care of. A rare performance of the singers debut solo single Work It Out was performed with gusto and the Tina Turner-esque dance moves. We were also offered a couple of covers, most notably Sex On Fire by Kings of Leon which she tore through with rock god enthusiasm.

BeyonceLiveShepherdsBushAs the event was centered around the singers latest studio offering a number of the records key tracks found a comfortable nesting spot within the nights set.

Beyonce’s ability to stir a crowd into an orgasmic frenzy goes almost unmatched. Over the course of the set we were offered up some future favorites in the form of the new albums track-listing. Beyonce is a force of musical amazement as not only a singer, belting out power ballads or bringing the house down with her flawless floor fillers but also as an all round entertaining extraordinaire and we are given a real treat with her new record.

Now it goes without saying that Beyonce is more than capable of selling out the world’s biggest stadiums to perform for tens of thousands of fans so the chance to see the singer in a space so intimate as the 2000 person capacity of the Empire was the chance of a lifetime and every fans dream.

Each and every song that we were treated to was delivered in true iconic style with the singer showing exactly why she is at the very summit of her game. Her voice remained faultless throughout the set which showed off her versatility as a performer with a mix of balladry among some new, up-tempo floor fillers which helped aid the singers reputation of being such a phenomenally gifted and vocally flexible act.

Not many acts are capable of blowing me away these days but last night’s performances did just that.

Set List:

Run The World (Girls)
Best Thing I Never Had
I Miss You
End Of Time
Bohemian Rhapsody
Sex On Fire
Work It Out
Single Ladies