Concert Review: Beyoncé Reigns at Roseland Ballroom

Beyoncé

“Tonight, I want to tell you guys my story,” Beyoncé divulged to a sold-out crowd at New York’s Roseland Ballroom last night. The 90-minute, guest-free show, the first of four this week, found the 29-year-old diva splitting the difference between hushed torch singer and stadium belter, running through a 30-minute revue of her greatest hits before performing virtually all of 4, her latest album released earlier this year.

For a singer long accustomed to stadiums, Sunday’s show was the most intimate performance most fans would see from the ubiquitous superstar. Backed by a 20-piece, all-female orchestra, including a conducted string sextet, three-piece horn section, three backup singers, and a harpist, the singer devoted the first third of the show to a “VH1 Storytellers”-type greatest hits showcase-cum-history lesson. If you didn’t know Beyoncé’s biography before—auditions with Destiny’s Child starting at age nine, her father’s early and frequent involvement managing his daughter’s career, getting dropped by Elektra, etc.—she laid bare her entire musical history starting with a Michael Jackson obsession at age five. Opening with Jackson’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” the singer interspersed minute-long snippets of her greatest hits both as a solo artist and with Destiny’s Child, stopping each track to discuss her life and mindset during each stage of her career.

After recalling her father’s interrupting of an audition for numerous labels because “they’re not ready yet,” B talked about entering the studio by herself at 18, hearing Stevie Nicks’ guitar riff for “Edge of Seventeen” that would inspire “Bootylicious,” and how the last years of Destiny’s Child were a “reality show like ‘Survivor.’” “It was trying to figure out which member would be the last one on the island,” explained the singer.

The medley combined the quick blasts of a Las Vegas revue with the emotional candor of a singer-songwriter performing to a near-empty room. It was an odd, yet effective juxtaposition; a global superstar who could effortlessly shuffle between slick, bombastic R&B and awkwardly honest confessions of a tumultuous career. By the end of the set though, humility, as one expects from a singer with 16 Grammy awards and more than 75 million records sold worldwide, turned to sly confidence. “[The label] told me I didn’t have one hit song on my album,” she said of her 2003 debut Dangerously in Love. “I guess they were kinda right. I had five.” With the exception of a slowed-down, jazzier version of “Crazy in Love,” the orchestra augmented rather than transformed the tracks, as if deviating too much from the recorded versions would violate the victory lap feel of the show.

“1+1,” the opening song on 4, found Beyoncé kneeling atop a piano, her coy, torch singer poses bumping up against wind machines and spotlights beaming from above the singer’s head. The contradiction was emblematic of the set, as the deservedly entitled diva shared space with her populist alter-ego. For every fog machine, there was a 3,000-person sing-along; for every extravagant light number, there was a heartfelt emotional moment. Tonight was Beyoncé being all things to all people without pandering or condescension.

Performing the album virtually front to back (“Start Over” was curiously left off Sunday’s setlist), the singer displayed both the stamina and vigor that makes for stadium-perfect shows. “End of Time” and “Run the World (Girls)” utilized flamboyant light displays to bring elaborate routines to a smaller stage, though most of the time, Beyoncé viewed the reduced space as advantageous over limiting. B ended the last song—the self-empowering ballad “I Was Here”—with “Roseland, we were here.” In less confident hands, the line would’ve come off as hokey. For Beyoncé, it was the recognition of a singular event before returning to the stadium.

–Jason Newman

“4 Intimate Nights with Beyoncé” Setlist:

“I Wanna Be Where You Are” (Michael Jackson cover)
“No, No, No (Parts 1 and 2)”
“Bills, Bills, Bills”
“Say My Name”
“Independent Women”
“Bootylicious”
“Survivor”
“’03 Bonnie & Clyde”
“Crazy in Love”
“Dreamgirls”
“Irreplaceable”
“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”
“1+1”
“I Care”
“I Miss You”
“Best Thing I Never Had”
“Party”
“Rather Die Young”
“Love on Top”
“Countdown”
“End of Time”
“Run the World (Girls)”
“I Was Here”



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46 Comments

  1. chloe

    bey killed it last night. the way she sung “i care” and “rather die young” OMG im speechless

    [Reply]

    nmitchel Reply:

    @chloe, hey can you tell me what time you got there to see the show?

    [Reply]

  2. jeremydante

    Nice to hear she’s doing intimate shows.

    [Reply]

  3. DeeJay

    I wonder will one of the concerts be taped for DVD release.

    [Reply]

    Jay P Reply:

    @DeeJay, I heard that last night and tonight’s performance is going to be taped so I’m sure she’s putting out a DVD.

    [Reply]

    ABC Reply:

    @Jay P, The final 2 shows are the ones being taped

    [Reply]

  4. Jamaican

    Aww & Start Over Was My Favorite Song!!

    [Reply]

  5. MeloRockstarr

    Nobody vocally is messing with her this era

    [Reply]

  6. minajarama

    sad to not hear Start Over! i love that song. love the whole album.

    KING B

    its official!

    now lets get a number 1 off the album! it’s in there!!! promise!

    [Reply]

  7. Kyle

    It seems like she recylced a lot of the dialouge from her intimate concert that she performed in Las Vegas in 2009. Not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m just glad she is showcasing the songs from “4″ because I seriously love this album. It’s probably my favorite album from her.

    [Reply]

    junn Reply:

    @Kyle, i noticed that too! but i still love herr

    [Reply]

    caribean boy Reply:

    @Kyle, i love her and i love 4 with my heart, but i think if shes gonna put an dvd out from this concert, she didnt have to have the same speech as she had on the vegas concert dvd, and i think she most have let those destinys child song out of this one, and only sing a few old hits and the songs of 4

    [Reply]

    Lo Reply:

    @Kyle, Yeah she did as you could see it starts from when she was younger to now.

    [Reply]

  8. Em

    I was at last night standing room only show. After waiting 4 hrs in pouring rain the show still started 1 1/2 late. It was a terrible start to the show. The intimate setting would have been nice if she didnt have millions of fans trying to get a close view. Perhaps bey should remember that with smaller shows comes much discomfort to fans. I like her new album but disappointed at the disregard to fans safety and time.

    [Reply]

    Diana Reply:

    @Em, Where you able to get a good view?

    [Reply]

    nmitchel Reply:

    @Diana, so what exactly happened did they take the best tickets in first and then allow everyone else to fill in? I am going to the 18th show. please help me out.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    @Em, I was there last night and totally agree with you. Waiting outside in the rain and then another hour and half inside was rough. She looked and sounded great, but if I had to do it all over again I’d wait for the DVD.

    [Reply]

  9. Monica

    I agree with Em, the show was suppose to start at 8, however they didnt let people in until 9, very unorganized. In addition to that she didnt perform until 10, major disappointment.

    [Reply]

  10. Kayleigh

    As if you guys had the opportunity to go and you are complaining!? You didn’t deserve to go and you should definately NOT call yourselves stans! You 2 are the major dissapointment! Its not her fault the show started late so sit down and appreciate the show for what it was… complete EPICness!

    [Reply]

  11. Mrs A

    I’m going to see her on thursday night so excited :-) . Can anyone tell me how early you would have to be there to get a good spot to see her since it’s a standing crowd ?! Thanks

    [Reply]

    Real Issh Reply:

    @Mrs A, I’m going Thurs also & they said stans were out on Saturday for Sunday’s concert . o_0

    [Reply]

    nmitchel Reply:

    @Real Issh, hey I just wanted to ask you what tickets you got. I could not get the good tickets so i only paid for the $116 tickets do you think i could get to the stage?

    [Reply]

    Kahari Reply:

    @Mrs A,: Honey, get there EARLY! Like, 5 hours early. Bring snacks, water, and comfortable shoes! I’m jealous of anyone going! I haven’t seen Bey live since she came here in Chicago back in ’07 during her Beyonce Experience Tour. She was amazing.

    [Reply]

  12. Chris J

    this bitch slayed my fuckin life with love on top & rather die young..

    [Reply]

  13. SeanAlexandr

    I soooo needed to be there! It’s always nice to hear amazing things about an amazing person. Love you Bey :)

    [Reply]

  14. k

    I’m so excited to go see her on the last night. :)

    [Reply]

  15. Kenny

    B ur jst a power house. Ur an entity on ur own. Go on hopn 2 catch up with u soon

    [Reply]

  16. QUEEN BEYONCE STANN

    Bitch Is SLAYYING!Your Basic Ass FAVS Could & Will Never So Might As Well Deal ;)

    [Reply]

    look Reply:

    @QUEEN BEYONCE STANN,

    Stop trying to start stuff. That comment is obviously the truth and nobody before you said anything bad. what you are doing is called “shit starting.”

    People know this bish is bad. leave the playground and join the rest of the adult world who can recognize real.

    [Reply]

  17. Jay

    I’m not surprised this review is so good.

    Unstoppable

    Iconic

    Legendary

    The Queen!

    [Reply]

  18. Real Issh

    I’m going on Thurs & I’ve heard some terrifying things about thee crowd . Lmao , it’s worth it tho .

    [Reply]

  19. caribean boy

    i love her and i love 4 with my heart, but i think if shes gonna put an dvd out from this concert, she didnt have to have the same speech as she had on the vegas concert dvd, and i think she most have let those destinys child song out of this one, and only sing a few old hits and the songs of 4

    [Reply]

    stewie Reply:

    @caribean boy, beyonce will not stop doing destiny child song destiny child made her & she always has to give credit to that group point blank.

    [Reply]

  20. jordan

    only my favorite song ” start over ” is not there. Thanks Beyonce.!

    [Reply]

  21. POV

    I love how someone blasted a few people for daring to have one tiny little negative issue about the concert. They said they liked the girl and are fans and paid to see her perform just like anyone else, so you tell someone that they didn’t deserve to be there? Uh, when someone says a show starts at given time, it should start at or at least with in fifteen minutes of the time given. That is Beyonce and Co.’s responsibility. People’s time are just as valuable as hers. And if I paid more than one hundred bucks for a show, I would not want a recycled speech or a bunch of DC songs being songs either. I would want to hear a few of her recent songs a few oldies and the majority of her new material. Are the stans this deluded that they turn on their own for calling Bey out on the most basic shit?

    [Reply]

    stewie Reply:

    @POV, you sound kinda mad.

    [Reply]

    look Reply:

    @stewie,

    No. She sounds like she expects what she paid for. Just because you’ll take anything given to you doesn’t mean other people don’t have standards.

    OAN everybody is not mad. Some people just have expectations. Is that so bad when they paid their hard earned money?

    If the show was free, that’d be different, but come on.

    [Reply]

  22. beyonce is overrated

    beyonce is the biggest copycat in the musi industry

    [Reply]

  23. ThedopestWYNTER

    I was in attendance last night and I must say, King B MURDERED that set. I was in town visiting from Miami and two hours before the show I bought the ticket and that forever changed my life. I will definetly be in attendance whenever the world tour is in town. When she SANG “I miss you”, “I was here”, and “I care”.. phew SHE DID THAT! King B in concert is a must see. Oh so greatful!

    [Reply]

  24. traore ali

    the special women

    [Reply]

  25. nmitchel

    what time did yall go for the 14th and 16th dates? I am attending the 18th. #pumped

    [Reply]

    stewie Reply:

    @nmitchel, i suggest you camp out the night before if you wanma be in the front

    [Reply]

  26. jessiejrocks

    Her little biography thing is exactly the same as the one in the Wynn Las Vegas DVD. I hope she releases a dvd of one of the nights performance, with Start Over included please?!?!

    [Reply]

  27. Mrs A

    The conocert was AWESOME! my best peice of advice
    Is for anyone going today get there early like right now because the line turned blocks . Her performance was a night to remeber. She is what you call a true entertainer ad performer! My first time seeing her in concert and I can’t wait to see her again!

    [Reply]

  28. thomas

    # Wow lnv it!!!

    [Reply]

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    [Reply]

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