Atlanta is a special city. The way black people live and love in this hot plate location is unlike any other place in the world. The minute you step off the plane (especially like how I did, coming from 3 days in Monterey "wine and cheese" California), the soul of black folks cloaks you with a warm hug and a few "How are you, baby?" inquiries.
A-Town is already the capital for black women's creative hairstyling. Nowhere else can you see purple, red, orange and striped shades of Remy quality weave and wigs than ATL. This is probably the defacto home for Beyonce's BeyHive. Every size, complexion, nationality, gender blend, relationship status and career level is represented at a Beyonce show...and this epic third night of B's Formation World Tour is no different.
Style wise, I saw it all as women put on their Friday night best (on a Sunday no less) to see Bey at the Georgia Dome. Everything from stilettos that were too small to see-through sequins, hip squeezing latex and the tightest denim the law would allow. This is what Beyonce stans live for, a chance to play dress up for a live performance of their Queen.
Once inside the women in attendance--a bit sauced up from pre-gaming at nearby bars--sang along wildly to every hit Formation Tour opener and Social Media Master, DJ Khaled brings out. Khaled's chant of "We The Best" echoed through the cavernous arena, while he introduce the likes of Rick Ross, August Alsina, Kent Jones, Yo Gotti, 2Chainz, The Dream, T.I. and Ludacris spitting their biggest anthems. Back-to-back, non-stop energy and crowd craziness brought Khaled's set to an uproarious peak, where the audience was panting for more, and he abruptly shouts: "Khaled out!" Mic drop. Exits back stage like he knows he just smashed the place.
The 45-minute wait for Beyonce between sets isn't bad when you have a stadium full of people to watch and crack jokes on (just being real folks). Trust, I'm sure a few jokes were thrown my way. But once those house lights go dark for a sec and you hear the music snip a bit and the lights return, the crowd goes crazy and B is still 10 minutes from start time. I timed B's real start by the arrival of my front-row seat neighbors, R&B star Monica and her ex-NBA player husband Shannon Brown. Both cool and cordial to everyone, taking pics with fans and with next row over friends and loves of Lil Wayne's life, Toya Wright and their daughter Reginae.
With a dramatic entrance, Beyonce appears from the fog in all black, a wide brim hat and commands every bit of stage authority as the greats before her. Just standing there bopping her head to the track and words "I Slay." The ten story height of the LED screen projects her image for the whole venue to see and repeat after Beyonce "Atlanta! If you came here all dressed up to have fun tonight say 'I Slay!'" You know what was said in unison next...
For two hours straight Beyonce took the BeyHive on a roller coaster of emotions and spirit stirring. She walks to the middle of the Georgia Dome from the main stage to give those in the back and up top the feel of the front row experience. Chants for "Be-Yon-ce" are done throughout the show. For the "Sorry" lovers, Beyonce pushes the limit of "f--k that-ness" when she directs those lyrics to whoever's in need.
The way Beyonce seamlessly changes from outfit to outfit with the songs fitting the threads...flawless. How she gets on her pimp s--t with the fur and a throne for her version of the "Takeover" beat her husband rocked 15 years ago.. transformative. Even how B incorporates flashes of the Black Panther movement inspires.
Beyonce demonstrates a steel focus while performing "Ring The Alarm" accompanied by her army of dancers. Running through her personal catalog of hits like nothing. Shotgun style. You'll understand that when you see it live.
We witness about four wardrobe changes in under an hour. She routinely wipes sweat from her upper lip...sexy and strong in doing so. Mean mugs the crowd and impressively has a dancer high above the stage in an open frame cube, dangling with no rope. She laments: "Where were you when that Lemonade drop? I shocked the world! Male or Female don't matter!"
Often we catch her getting lost in the joy of the moment, like she's home with the lights off twisting and turning. There is a cool moment where she says: "Let me sit this... [smiles]...and tell me how it feels..." Why you play so much B?
The Prince dedication is only felt in it's full scope live. To have more than 20,000 people singing "Purple Rain" together is glorious. Bey also gives a great amount of respect to Vanity 6 with a "Nasty Girl" rendition that does the song right.
Showcasing video from her visual album Lemonade, B sprinkles the emotional connection of her trials and women that have dealt with the same struggle, and wrapped it in a gift just for them. It's phenomenal how she has been able to weave her older work with the newer sounds and mix in the influences of funk, rock, pop, reggae, hip-hop and make it all turn to her lane of R&B. Maybe we should call the genre, Rhythm & Beyonce.
The latter half of the show is Beyonce taking it up a notch to greatness. She slows it down a bit to amp up the strength songs in her line up. "1+1" to a "Crazy In Love" rock remix to "Freedom" to "Survivor" to "Halo" all while dancing in a pool of water.
The best show I've witnessed in a long time that encompassed everything you want from a super star performer. An intimate experience in a big stage venue with people that love the artist as much as the artist loves them, "ATL, this is the best crowd so far on the tour."
Get in Formation and BeyonSlay.