Review: Beyonce live at the O2, Dublin
Beyoncé has been one of the planet's biggest stars for the best part of a decade, so it's hardly surprising that each live global outing attempts to outdo the one that went before.
Tonight's performance sees the fireworks turned on for every minute of its two-hour run-time. The Mrs Carter Show World Tour – a reference to her equally lauded husband, hip-hop giant Shaun "Jay Z" Carter – is an audio-visual wonder that puts would-be rivals in the ha'penny place.
There is an awesome light show, a series of lavish avant-garde videos, ballet dancers, break-dancers, an all-female backing band whose members include a brass section, actual fireworks and . . . the list goes on. And at the centre of it all, the Amazonian singer herself, whose slick dance moves impress in their own right.
Proceedings get under way memorably with a typically bombastic take on one of her better empowerment anthems, 'Run the World (Girls)' – and one is reminded that few people are capable of doing this sort of all-singing, all-dancing spectacular as well as Beyoncé.
A powerful sexual charge runs from start to finish, not least when she prefaces the suggestive 'Naughty Girl' with a few lines from Donna Summer's evergreen disco classic 'Love to Love You Baby'.
And it's there too later on, during her rendition of the smouldering '1 + 1', when she lies back on a grand piano and sings "make love to me". An overhead camera captures her in her best pre-coital pose and she looks resplendent in a sparkly blue cat suit.
While it's hard to avert your gaze from the theatrics on stage, it's fair to say that a large chunk of the show is not as special as it could be. Her preference for schmaltzy ballads doesn't help, nor does the fact that she is off stage so much for costume changes.
Her stunning performance in this venue two years ago saw her mix the hits and the newer stuff in a crowd-pleasing way. This time, she makes her fans wait.
And what a finale she delivers. First, there's a marvellously strident take on 'Survivor' – one of the huge songs from her Destiny's Child days. Then there's a brilliantly choreographed version of 'Crazy in Love'. And, to round off a truly memorable 15 minutes, she brings the house down with a thrilling 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)'.
The night concludes with a short, a cappella homage to the late Whitney Houston ('I Will Always Love You') which segues into a delightfully over-the-top 'Halo'. Like several other of her big hits, the song has been given a subtle makeover – and this militaristic version works well.