Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour is a celebration of self-expression and inclusivity
Written by B87FM on August 1, 2023
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
I loved Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour — I caught it in New Jersey on Sunday — so let’s talk about it.
First off, the crowd is definitely a part of the show. Everywhere in the building there are people who dressed specifically for this show by wearing silver cowboy hats or something dark, slinky and sexy, or something proudly non-binary. The Renaissance tour crowd is very Black, very female and very gay, and you can see that any sort of self-expression is welcome and celebrated in the Beyhive. It all feels super inclusive. As I moved through the stadium filled with Beyoncé fans, I felt like I was in a really warm, welcoming open-minded space.
So the vibes were already there when Beyoncé emerged in a long, beautiful dress that was for singers, not dancers. She eased into the night singing slow, dramatic songs as if to remind us of her love of singing. It’s an opening section that’s heartwarming and emotional. I thought of it as the Beyoncé Is Mother section of the show.
A half-hour in, she launched into the Renaissance part of the show wearing a shiny silver bodysuit that definitely said “dancer.” There’s a lot of robot imagery in this part of the show. We get photos of Beyoncé as a robot inspired by Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” and actual Beyoncé in robotic-looking clothes that peeled off of her like Iron Man’s suit. At one point, she rides a silver-moon rover truck. It’s very afro-futuristic.
When she gets into “Renaissance’s” high-energy bangers, the show reaches an ecstatic fever pitch. The album is so much about rhythm and dance that hearing those songs and all that rhythm in a giant space like a stadium is powerful. It’s a massive dance party.
Let me pause for a moment to address a persistent and rather stupid critique of the show that’s floating around online: There are no opening acts. Oh boy. If you’re Beyoncé and her management, you want the night of the concert to be all about Beyoncé. We don’t need fans thinking about any other artists. Also, if Beyoncé hired an opening act, she would have to pay that opening act a fee. Beyoncé is selling out stadiums by herself. Why would she bring in another act that’s not selling any tickets? No one is saying “Well, I would’ve bought Beyoncé tickets if it was also Ice Spice but since it’s just Bey, nah, I’m good.” What? But more than that, the show is over two hours and thirty minutes long. That’s a long show. You want even more music than that? Go to a festival. This is a concert — a concert where the faithful have come to worship their queen while she sends love and self-esteem out to them. It’s a big lovefest. We don’t need anyone else on stage.
That said, Beyoncé’s show does include several secondary players who pull a lot of attention. No. 1 is her daughter, Blue Ivy, who has a section about 10 minutes long where she’s dancing onstage in unison with the dancers. Many of us have seen the videos of Blue Ivy dancing onstage during the tour, and from show to show, we’ve seen her grow more relaxed and confident onstage. It’s beautiful to see.
The other big secondary stars of the show are Les Twins — Laurent and Larry Bourgeois, twin brothers and dancers from France who have been in Beyoncé’s camp for years. They’re truly special dancers who are dynamic and fluid and totally captivating. They bring with them the new age of hip-hop dancing but they stand out in a crowd of dancers because of how explosively they move. They make something special out of every moment they spend onstage.
Beyoncé’s many dancers are a big presence in this show — Honey Balenciaga is also a standout who really sells her every moment onstage. But for a surprisingly large portion of the show, Beyoncé is onstage alone. In many of these moments she’s not dancing, she’s just like … being. Let’s call it not really dancing but still moving in a dancerly way as her butt-length blonde hair billows behind her in the breeze. Beyoncé is such a compelling entertainer and beloved person that she can stand alone in the middle of a stadium and barely move, and the whole crowd is enraptured.
You can tell what song is most important to the star by what song they do last at their show. The Renaissance Tour ends with “Summer Renaissance,” which, of course, is the last song on the album but more importantly, it’s a disco song and a tribute to the Queen of Disco and a big tribute to disco and house music. And a salute to disco and house is a salute to both Black and queer people because they are the center of the disco and house world. It’s another way Beyoncé sends love to her fans. Her love for her people is so tangible and her self-confidence is so infectious that the Renaissance World Tour leaves you feeling great about yourself.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s.” He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.
TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!