Beyonce puts on a dazzling display at the O2
Beyonce's entrance at the O2 makes the finale of 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' seem like an exercise in tasteful understatement. As dry ice gusts wildly about the stage and Wagnerian horns blare, a statuesque silhouette appears, hand on hips, head tilted imperiously . Then the swelling intro to 'Crazy In Love' kicks in, the smoke clears, and there stands Beyonce, superhumanly buff and glamorous. You are left in no doubt that tonight you are in the presence of pop royalty.
Beyonce sold more records than almost anyone else last year and appears determined to give something back to her fans. On the first of four stuffed-to-capacity Dublin concerts, there's so much glittering spectacle that you could be at a lavish Broadway musical or a presidential inauguration. In the guise of 'Sasha Fierce', her sexually liberated, high-boot wearing alter ego, she stomps around in leopard-print hot pants and glow-in-the-dark bra, a blinking beacon affixed to her crotch (don't try it at home, children -- you'll either electrocute yourself or be arrested for indecency).
But she also wants to show us her gentle side. Mostly, this is an excuse for her to indulge her love of hair-dryer torch songs -- though, in light of recent scandals, an Irish audience surely can't sit through the old convent staple 'Ave Maria' (Knowles's wedding tune) without feeling something cold squeeze the heart.
The true pyrotechnics, however, are saved for the second half, when Sasha Fierce is let off the leash. Beyonce swoops around the room on a trapeze artist's harness before alighting, ballerina-like, on a small stage at the centre of the room to belt out a medley of Destiny's Child hits. Pop music doesn't get any smarter, sassier or more spectacular.