It is only now – a week after she has left our Emerald Isle that I can muster the strength to write about my tonsillitis-inducing, mammoth Beyoncé three-day extravaganza. If you’ve read anything I’ve written on here before or your timeline has ever suffered from a deluge of ‘yaaaas Gaga’-type appraisals of various female powerhouses, you will be aware of my propensity for obsession. Nigella, Victoria, Cheryl and even Nadine have all been on the receiving end of my Bieberesque fangirl tendencies, but as glamorous X Factor judges and treasured national sweethearts come and go and interest may fluctuate, there has always been one woman whose ferocious presence and impossible perfection has garnered a constant and irrevocable fascination within the confines of my little pop cultured heart. Bey, it’s you. It’s always been you.
Okay, firstly, I need to clear up the tragic logistics, if you can term them as such, that synonymised the extent of my fandom over the last week or so. Beyoncé played in Dublin’s O2 arena for four nights and consider it the duty of a professional fangirl, but I decided to take only one night off (Tuesday, for much-needed vocal rest) and attend three of the four nights. It is undeniably excessive and my dad most definitely didn’t understand my dedication to the cause, but I was determined to edge closer and closer to the stage each night in some misguided fantasy that Bey herself might recognise the inevitable loose spiritual connection between us and invite me to share the stage.
However, and we shall gloss over this extremely quickly, on the third night, I managed to secure a place up front for Bey’s last Dublin date and I can’t deny that I was like one of those annoying friends who ruins a movie for everyone else by spoiling the ending, but I found myself whispering the set-list with some sort of misplaced pride in the knowledge that I knew, “No dear, they’re not playing Countdown, this is just the intro before she breaks into Crazy In Love”, as if I were privy to Bey’s entourage.
Delusions aside, it was during the last song, Halo, when I started to feel strange. During the whole gig, I had noticed young girls fainting, literally unable to cope with their lives as Bey touched their hands or offered them the microphone. I imagined how embarrassing it would be to have to be lifted backstage under such circumstances. Hmmm, cue one probably-not-looking-at-you-at-all stare directly at me from Bey herself and suddenly my vision completely disappears and I find myself in worrying darkness, able to hear everything, but see absolutely nothing. Next thing I know, I too, just like those body-conned, excessively tanned gurlos am being carried backstage moments before the gig ends. I had fainted. HOW. EMBARRASSING?!
Now, in my heart of hearts, I know the reason I fainted was *most likely* because I hadn’t eaten or drank for about seven hours. When that’s juxtaposed with dexterous screaming, shouting and treacherous attempts at singing Love on Top as I was unknowingly suffering from the onslaught of tonsillitis in an extremely hot environment, it doesn’t take a genius to pinpoint the trigger of my demise. But I find it more entertaining and romantic to imagine that I collapsed because I couldn’t cope with Beyoncé Knowles. A true fangirl, if ever there was one. “Jaysis, what would you be screaming for?” asks my dad, who just doesn’t get it, a few days later. Oh, what was I screaming for? LIFE, BEY, PERFECTION, tbh. In hindsight, I wish I had some of my father’s pragmatism, or country cop-on, as I woke up on Thursday morning with a throat that felt like it was being force-fed cut-throat razors and then being punched just for the fun of it. I’ve spent the last few days in bed, primarily trying to recoup health-wise, but also lamenting the loss of that fair lady on the Dublin stage.
Sickness aside, Beyoncé’s 4-day stint in Dublin’s O2 as part of the revamped European leg of her Mrs Carter Show was an electrifying extravaganza that saw the beautiful synergy between old school, classic Beyoncé and 2014’s highly-sexualised, yet powerful Mrs Carter come to explosive fruition. She is, of course, the undeniable queen of balance and she treaded the boards carefully when it came to her reworked set-list following the surprise November release of her self-titled, immensely successful new album. Old favourites such as Crazy in Love and Single Ladies were seamlessly in flow amongst her newer material, such as Partition, Flawless, Drunk in Love et al and the audience lapped up each track with equal eruptive relish.
Quite simply, nobody can put on a show like Queen Bey. Even as a regular audience member, it’s easy to tell that the production is mastered down to a tee and her ease and knowledgeable comfort of the set is thanks in no small part to her running the entire show from its inception right through to being its shining star. She is undeniably her own creative director and the choice to merge Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby with Beyoncé’s own Naughty Girl is a clever crowd-pleaser that sees the star of the show seductively tease from an illuminated doorway. She is in control of everything and with The Mrs Carter Show’s heavy focusing on burlesque, the thing Beyoncé is perhaps most in control of is her own sexuality.
It’s easy to make a case and say that a woman who prances about on stage in an embellished leotard singing about ‘grindin’ on that wood’ is far from a feminist, but Bey most definitely is and it’s no pseudo expression either! With a track such as Flawless, Beyoncé’s assertion that she woke up in a state of perfection is perhaps intended as an ironic point of thought meant to signal that she only “woke up like this” because she fought hard for success and her call to “bow down bitches” which was initially derided as anti-feminist, is not her urging other women to bow down to respect her success, but a dig at the oppressors or the ‘haters’, if you’ll excuse the term which has probably lost all significance in the Bieber-dominated semantics of modern-day popular culture. She embraces her sexuality for all that it has to offer, and why shouldn’t she? Of course male lure is an inevitable by-product, but the goal is female empowerment and not male gaze (arguably, the latter isn’t Bey’s target market, anyway). Her feminism might not rise to the levels of the likes of Germaine Greer or Caitlin Moran, but when Beyoncé asks “Who Run The World?” it’s hard to deny, that she isn’t that baddest boss bitch that ever did live. (I think that’s how she’d describe herself, don’t you?)
Beyoncé has been at this game for over 15 years and she can undoubtedly knock out a two-hour, flawless performance as easy as you or I can eat hot dinners. It’s second nature to her, but even after 15 years, nothing feels tired or old. She could easily, with very few complaints have come to the O2 with a slightly remodelled I Am (her 2009 tour) greatest hits-type show and everyone would have jumped for joy as she Naomi Campbell walked her way across the stage to Get Me Bodied, but the Mrs Carter Show was invigoratingly-fresh, raunchily-sexy, nostalgic and at times, tear-jerking, and it was ostensibly Beyoncé at her best. As I finish typing, listening to the beautiful chimes of Irreplaceable, I’m reminded that all other divas that come and go will be appropriately pushed à gauche for Queen Bey, who will always have pride of place. However, next time she’s back, for the sake of my health, I’m gonna mime!