Beyoncé and Jay Z at AT&T Stadium, 7/22/14
Beyoncé and Jay Z
Parkwood Entertainment Beyoncé led the way at AT&T Stadium with husband Jay Z last night
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
For the first half of her and Jay Z's appearance at AT&T Stadium on Tuesday night, it looked like this show was all about Beyoncé. Every time she was onstage, Bey's presence trumped that of anyone else in sight -- including the Greatest himself. She danced, shook and sang like a woman on a mission, every movement authoritative, every moment used to assert her supremacy. Jay Z was left to feel like a glorified hype man.
But by the time the night had ended, the On the Run Tour had become something different altogether.
If this was supposed to be a performance by the biggest power couple in the music biz (if not all of the entertainment industry), then Mr. and Mrs. Carter did everything in their power to prove it. It was undeniably a spectacle, a barrage of bright lights, choreographed dancing, occasional real fire and bone-rattling beats that stretched out nearly two-and-a-half hours and 45 songs. As a production, it was breathtaking, something that might even be called "an event."
In fact, it was more than just a concert. It was the story of Jay Z and Beyoncé, the evolution of their lives and their relationship. To that end, it was more effective than the storylines of most arena shows, as it wove the setlist together with skits and video montages that were their own little works of art, each one its own one- to two-minute black-and-white homage to Tarantino or Godard.
As the show stretched on, however, the plot became more cumbersome. Sure, it was touching to see Bey and Jay's old home movies (with a healthy dose of baby Blue) flashed up on the big screens after the show had gone through its rockiest portion, complete with Mrs. Carter singing a teary-eyed "Resentment" in a wedding dress. By the time they'd reached the last handful of songs, the biggest hits had all passed by, and what was left was mainly there to tie the plot together.
Yet the happy ending and marital bliss was largely beside the point. After all, for all their collaborations over the years, what makes these two special is their independence, their sense of self. They don't need each other to be stars, but together they're that much bigger and badder. What was thrilling was to see each assert themselves -- especially Beyoncé.
It wasn't just because of the performance, either. Sure, Beyoncé has a crazy set of pipes that could well serve as its own horn section if need be. But what mattered most wasn't just how fully she owned it, with her flowing hair blowing in the fans or the moments of pure joy when she slipped out of character and cracked a smile. No, it was the message she was delivering through it all.
"If you have your own life," she declared at one point in the show as she and her backup dancers took formation for "Run the World (Girls)," "if you make your own money, then sing with me tonight."
The room duly erupted in the biggest applause of the night. (Well, at least half of it did. Every woman in the room made noise for that one.) Beyoncé may have been groomed for stardom from a young age, but she's taken ownership of the role in a way few others have or even could. She's defined herself on her own terms, as an artist, as a woman and as a sex symbol. When Beyoncé shakes her booty or shows off her body, she does it as an agent, not an object. Seeing her in person reaffirms that fact in its own unique way.