The Beyoncé Experience in Atlanta

Beyoncé for Rennaissance album. Photo by Carlijn Jacobs

International superstar Beyoncé and the BeyHive fanbase swarmed Atlanta for three shows during her “Rennaissance” World Tour. This being her ninth concert tour, the singer has been traveling across Europe and North America for 56 shows in honor of her 2022 album of the same name. 

The central theme of the work revolves around paying homage to Black LGBTQ+ influences in the entertainment industry as well as her late Uncle Jonny who helped raise her. Genres like disco, funk house, and bounce are reflected throughout the tracks, utilizing samples and features from notable artists. Written during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, lyrics throughout each song promote important messages while inspiring the gifts of self-expression and celebration. 

Arriving at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it almost looked as if it could have double for a Beyoncé convention. Fans were decked out in themed outfits resembling notable looks that the star has worn throughout her three-decade career. There were merchandise stands everywhere and even an album themed photo booth for fans.  

Having bought my ticket dangerously close to the show date, I had to settle for a seat high up in the 300’s with a side view of the stage. The height was intimidating, but the visibility was great as I was able to see everything.  

While waiting, I was impressed by the sights around me. The two giant screens on stage featured colors of the Pride flag, and the stadium was continuously filling up at every angle with fans. Surely there were famous people down on the floor level as well, since there had been numerous reports of celebrity sightings at her shows.  

 As showtime approached, it became evident that Beyoncé would not be coming out anytime soon. It seemed as if people around me were already aware of that as they waited patiently with no signs of discontent. I followed suit and mingled with other fans for the next hour. As the sky finally grew dark, there was a sudden shift in the atmosphere 

The crowd knew it was time for her arrival. Everyone around me attempted to quiet themselves down with excited whispers yet were somehow so loud at the same time. A collective wave of starstruck feelings panned out across the stadium as she finally glided out onto stage. There she was: ‘BEYONCÉ 

It felt surreal to be in the presence of a world star; she almost seemed to be emitting a glow. Donned in a beautiful lime green gown, Beyoncé began with a rendition of “Dangerously in Love,” a song by her former girl group Destiny’s Child. Phasing through the first act with more ballads and renditions to some of her favorite songs, she took a moment to express her gratitude for the fans and city of Atlanta. Fans reflected on her appreciation and generosity, as it was mentioned that she donated a total of $120,000 to 12 small businesses in the metropolitan area. 

By the end of the first act, it was evident that the production value was going to be a highlight of the show. Each section consisted of cinematic interludes, conveying a range of atmospheres. Intergalactic, metallic, party, and even church were themes that captured a difference essence of Beyoncé’s artistry. There was even a reference to the famed futuristic 1927 sci-film, “Metropolis.” From reflective body suits to an inspired designer bee costume and minidresses, she managed to capture each mood perfectly through her various costume changes. 

Large props such as a crystal horse, metallic tank, cosmic seashell, and a pole took Beyoncé performances to the next level. She circled around the stadium many times, utilizing every piece of equipment she had to amplify the experience. Pyrotechnics and stage lights illuminated the stage, adding to the excitement. 

Not only did Beyoncé shine through the night, but her team members did also. In every act, her band members were highlighted through solo performances. They introduced big moments with their instruments and led a descent down from others. A quartet of singers and several band members even took center stage to perform a rendition of “Love Hangover” by Motown singer Diana Ross.  

The dancers seemed to gain the most traction throughout the night, earning countless chances to showcase their skills. Famed performers like the Les Twins, Honey Balenciaga, and even Beyoncé‘s daughter Blue Ivy wowed the crowd, along with a diverse cast expressing themselves freely at every corner.  

The majority of Beyoncé’s musical ensemble were Black and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community. It was beautiful to see a platform provided for talented people who come from communities that are not always uplifted in the mainstream light. What was seen across stage all night could be explained with words such as “freedom” or “liberation,” and even “joy.” Many in the crowd saw themselves reflected through the diversity, making this feel as if it should be considered a historic, prideful event itself. 

Though all the visuals and performers were impressive, the amount of historical context and appreciation put into the show really drove the point home. The voice of famed ballroom commentator Kevin JZ Prodigy could be heard throughout the concert, adding an authenticity to the Black LGBTQ+ homage.  

Beyoncé acknowledged many legends who had an impact on her as well as the very genres that she was expressing through this album. Names of prominent Black women in music that came before her such as Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Janet Jackson, Grace Jones, and Sade were dropped over a remix of Madonna’s “Vogue.”  

With the tour surrounding the Renaissance album, it is no surprise that most of the track list came from it. From upbeat feel-good songs such as “Break My Soul” and “Cuff It,” to more charged tracks like “America Has a Problem” and “Pure/Honey,” the audience enjoyed the live renditions of her most recent releases.  

However, Beyoncé made sure not to leave a handful of her classics out. She utilized medleys with hard hitting female empowerment anthems such as “Diva,” “Formation,” and “Run the World (Girls),” and others with more sultry sounds like “Dance for You,” “Say My Name,” and “Naughty Girl.” 

Finally, during the Encore act, Beyoncé was ready to make her descent from the stage. Taking final victory laps around the stage, the audience protested her departure. Her band carried the last of the music with them, and the audience was left processing the amount of content provided within the last two and a half hours. 

Beyoncé definitely made her mark on the city. Her homage and messages of love to the Black LGBTQ+ community, artists who have come before, and the fans that came to see her in Atlanta, will undoubtedly go down as moment in history along with the rest of the tour. 

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