Beyonce performs first of four-night run of her new '4' album at small NYC theater -- an EW review


Image Credit: Myrna Suarez

Only Beyoncé can call performing to a sold-out audience of 3,500 an “intimate affair” with a straight face.

If there’s anything to be learned from the R&B pop talent’s magnificent set last night at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom for her 4 Intimate Nights With Beyoncé run, it’s that Beyoncé’s bigger than any ballroom.

Queen B’s manic swarm of fans attacked the venue early, shoving and jostling through Roseland’s severely undermanned entrance, then rammed their way up to prime viewing real estate in the standing-room-only floor setup. Clear-eyed and swift, none seemed under the influence of a controlled substance. But obviously, they were high on excitement.

Just after 10pm, Beyoncé’s band arrived. For this evening, the first of four in the mini-series concluding Aug. 19 (All dates are sold out; sorry, guys), she brought along not just a drummer, keyboarder, and guitarist, but also a horn section and an orchestra—all women, cramped up on stage like an extremely concentrated dose of musical girl power.

Then came the lady of the hour. In a shimmering gold dress, Beyoncé opened with a refresher course of how a young lady from Houston, Texas, became a pop icon. Similar to her 2009 stint in Las Vegas (I Am… Yours) at the Wynn, the show began with a performance of the Jackson 5’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” which was followed by an audio autobiography of sorts.

Here’s the abbreviated version: She (as part of the first incarnation of Destiny’s Child) was on Star Search in 1990 and lost. The group was later signed to Elektra Records. The label dropped them. Then Columbia signed them. Success!  Leading to a run-through of Destiny smashes like “Say My Name,” “Independent Women,” and of course, “Survivor.”

Next, Beyoncé performed her solo hits—but not before mentioning that Columbia didn’t believe she had one big radio record on her 2003 debut album, Dangerously in Love. They were right, she teased. It cranked out several. That recap lasted about a half hour, which was long enough considering the night was only supposed to feature songs from her latest effort, 4. The medley was a gracious move on her part, though–pleasing all the fans that have rocked with her since day one.

B then climbed on top of a piano and launched into track one of 4: the love-drunk ballad “1+1.” Her voice rang soulfully, only breaking to let the crowd fill in gaps for a sing-along feel. Old school groove “Party,” Afrobeat “End of Time,” and lead single “Run the World (Girls)” were among the several highlights of the show.

It’s no secret: Beyoncé’s all about female empowerment, making her music not so relatable for this young male journalist.  It wouldn’t be a cool look for me to be caught singing “Single Ladies” at the top of my lungs in the gym. But her excellence is undeniable. Her quaking vocals beat her contemporaries and competes with legends’, as does her dancing.

When she closed with 4’s final cut “I Was Here” and bowed, fanatic screams and cheers followed. There was no encore. None was needed. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing her in a bigger venue, where there’s more space for her voice to soar, elbow room for her band to play, and room for her wild-child fans to dance.

Read more:
Beyonce performs ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, song writer releases original version
Beyoncé’s professional split with her dad sparked by stolen funds? Matthew Knowles takes those claims to court
New video for Beyonce’s ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ features lace teddy, great lighting

Comments (29 total) Add your comment
  • Marcelina

    Her thighs are so huge! I’m pretty sure she could crush a man to death between those thighs. It would be one of the most pleasant deaths a man could die.

    • SS

      Honestly your’e sick. She is a beautiful, THIN woman who is in incredible shape. Plus she’s more beautiful and has more talent than most people will ever exhibit.
      Wow, some people.

      • Lisa


      • @Lisa

        That’s fine, but SS is still correct.

    • Banged by Teacher

      to die between those thighs would rock! say her in philly w/ kelly and micheele at Live 8 in 2005 was up front she had on tiny little denism mini…with barley there yellow dental floss button clearly in play! whew! one of best sights i ever saw vocals and stage show rocked!

    • True Blue

      Been watching “GoldenEye” lately, have you?

    • at home

      She has a goddess body, curvy and solid like the women in the fifties. It suits her more than the skinny, hard faced, blonde look she had when she was in the early days of promoting this new album.

      • Peter

        The ‘early days’? You mean a month ago?

  • Sweetandsexy50

    That my girl love you

  • JackieB

    Thanks for the review EW, very interesting.

  • bob

    i was there. it was phenomenal! waited in the pouring rain outside roseland ballroom for 4 hours to get to be at the front of the venue (the line stretched across several blocks). bey was humbled by fans and their passion for her music, and she soared during the tender moments, often times looking to jay in the mezzanine. wish she would do more, ahem, “intimate” concerts like this.

  • Makula Sagno

    hi beautiful n powerful woman ,i really like the way u act,dance,smile.u are the best .

  • Classy!

    Her vocals don’t beat her contemporary Christina Aguilera’s vocals. Beyonce is a very good singer, not a great one. Stop trying to force that one.

    • Roni

      Christina is naturally talented but is ALWAYS oversinging and making CRAZY musical decisions…

    • ME

      you lie!

    • True Blue

      Honestly, I like Christina, and yes she does possess an undeniably great voice, but her largely unnecessary vocal acrobatics and overall horrendous technique completely take her out of the running on this one. Beyonce easily bests her. Sorry.

      • Classy!

        Well, if you completely take the best singer of this generation out of the running bc you don’t like her technique…then Beyonce would probably be the next best thing. No wait. That would probably be Kelly Clarkson or Pink.

    • geez

      Why do some people always have to put down one singer in favor of another? I could see if this was a debate on who’s better, but this article is just about Beyonce, who is a great talent in her own right.

  • tom

    UMMMMMM……many people are doing the “intimate” thing now…..its not like she is the starter of the movement!

    • SaraJeanQueen

      I think she copied Adele, who has been selling out these types of venues all year and said she has no interest in playing a stadium.

      • cindy

        oh please Beyonce has done intimate venues including the wynn in vegas in 2009. Other artist has done intimate venues, so what direction are you going with that statement!!

  • Anti_Intellect

    I’m not sure how female empowerment detracts from you as a man, or why you being a male means you can’t enjoy a song. I think this was a really great article, but your sexism and patriarchy at the end ruined it for me. Is it not possible to write a review without relying on sexist thinking and ideology?

  • Ben

    “Clear-eyed and swift, none seemed under the influence of a controlled substance. But obviously, they were high on excitement.”

    This writing is truly amateurish and embarrassing.

  • Justin

    Who needs a degree when ya Schoolin Life….BAM!

  • Drum

    OMG ,My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire man who is a celebrity !they met via——Meetrich.c0M——- is the largest and best club for celebrity and their admirers to chat online. …You do not have to be rich or famous. ,but you can meet your true love , It’s worthy a try!

  • NonEntity

    I read a lot about thighs and getting aroused by this image. How many would consider her voice if unattached from the body? Not many. She can sing though.

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