If I were Mrs. Carter (Beyoncé Live in Vancouver) [Review]
Vancouver, BC – Beyoncé‘s The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour hit Vancouver and hit it hard. Beyoncé has a potent brand – now as a wife, mother and superstar – and quite possibly the best live show of any artist past or present. Blame it on the costumes, the dancing, the production value and even the emotional swell that goes along with seeing all the things a girl dreams about – beauty, strength and sequins.
Starting with “Run the World (Girls)” the Queen Bey immediately had the captivation of a stadium full of girls whose images are based on what they absorb from her as a role model – as shown by the endless platform heels, fake leather, and beautiful hair. And who wouldn’t want to be her? She speaks words of conquest into the universe, and declares her rule – Who runs this mother? Bey runs this mother.
She moved from strength to vulnerability with “If I were a Boy” a gently delivered outline of how to be a good man: “If I were a boy, I think I could understand how it feels to love a girl, I swear I’d be a better man, I’d listen to her cause I know how it hurts…” All men should listen to Beyoncé; she builds a narrative that people can buy into, teaching values subtly through her winding curves and irresistible voice, a charm cast on the audience.
Between songs, Beyoncé outlined her journey of learning self-love, speaking concisely of isolation and revelation, of seeing each side of yourself and fighting yourself in order to find yourself. Use your heart and mind as a compass, for you were born to be queen, she told us. She encouraged girls to love their bodies and to find their strength, and stayed true to her words by featuring dancers, singers and musicians of many kinds of beauty.
We began to see a darker side of the diva with the “Clique” remix, then “Naughty Girl,” as the dancing got dirtier and the costumes smaller. As images of aristocracy and opulence filled the screen, she told us the trick of the trade, the essence of how to be a queen in a man’s world: “Sensuality is a gift…I can make you surrender.” And so was revealed the barb in Beyoncé’s message, through the flash, the perfection, the empowered words – the way to get power is through seduction.
She isn’t wrong, and it’s certainly helpful to have a role model giving women a guide map of how to succeed in a man’s world. But like the many costume changes that threw back to decades of beauty and indulgence, Beyoncé’s ideas are not new. And they are not revolutionary – it’s not change that she represents, but survival – Beyoncé is a survivor. She takes the role of peasant-turned-ruler, a goddess reborn, and takes us on a journey through the beauty of womanhood.
With womanhood inevitably comes heartbreak, and “Why Don’t You Love Me” spoke the words that every girl in that stadium has felt – “Why don’t you love me? When I make me so damn easy to love?” Next thing we knew, she was in a blue sparkling onesie writhing on top of a piano while singing “1 + 1,” then lifted in the air and carried to second stage, perched perfectly on a hook in the sky. And then she gave us what we’d been waiting for: “Survivor,” “Crazy in Love” and “Single Ladies,” 3 iconic songs that prove her words true: “20 years from now you’re gonna say ‘I was at that Beyoncé concert!'”
So how does a queen truly gain her power? The narrative’s end, accompanied by images of Beyoncé’s picture-perfect life, told us to leave no regrets, but instead leave something to remember. “I was here,” she declared. And with that, strains of Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” led Bey into singing a hauntingly familiar version of the classic love song before transitioning into the final piece of the puzzle – the last hint for the woman searching for her power. Beyoncé ended the story with a twist, with the suggestion that sensuality and its power have a limit if we want to love and be loved. Perhaps a queen’s true power does not come from seducing the king, but from winning his heart with courage and elegance. Perhaps what Mrs. Carter was really telling us is that a queen finds her fulfillment when she learns to see the king’s Halo.
Written by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada
Photography courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment