A weekend in Atlantic City is little more than a barrage of themes posing as “experiences,” cheap glitter, and shiny place to put your money forever.
Toss in better outfits and some of modern pop’s most indelible hits, and the same could be said for a Beyoncé concert.
A Beyoncé show is a capital-e Event, but book her in an arena in the center of the Atlantic City Boardwalk on a Friday in the summer, and it’s a tourist attraction. Borgata suites were booked, new Freakum Dresses purchased, money lost on Sex & The City slot machine.
“This ain’t a show for you to be cool,” Bey told the crowd at one point last night (July 26) at Boardwalk Hall. “This is a show for you to get lost.”
Walk through any casino in Atlantic City and you will not feel cool. Even the ones that have rebranded in an attempt to appeal more to the young and clubby, namely Harrah’s, define hipness as overpriced bottle service and poolside sets from The Jersey Shore’s DJ Pauly D. But traverse the game rooms and slot machines and one thing is apparent: faces lost in the experience of being there. That, too, was what Bey did to her crowd at one of the first East Coast dates of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.
First, though, was the advertising. For the hour leading up to Beyoncé’s 9 p.m. kickoff, concertgoers were shown the strength of the Bey Brand. Her Pepsi ad, an extended version of her H&M ad, her PSA for the charitable Chime For Change initiative, a commercial touting her family’s involvement with the Salvation Army; these things were applauded nearly as heartily as the Queen Bey herself.
By the time the giant “B” curtain dropped and “Run The World (Girls)” kicked off, the crowd was primed to bow down after an hour spent having Beyoncé’s greatness re-affirmed to them. She could do no wrong, and in terms of her actual live performance, there’s hardly a compliment that hasn’t been said. Beyoncé does not sacrifice technical excellence at the expense of sheer “wow” factor. Her band of intimidatingly badass female musicians, back-up singers and dancers keep up, but is that any surprise? Those who saw her documentary from earlier this year know all too well that she demands the best of her collaborators and employees.
The setlist was a mix of old and new, as a number of more low-key cuts off 4 (“I Miss You,” “I Care”) mixed with early solo hits (“Baby Boy,” “Crazy In Love”) and Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor.” In two hours, she covered a bit of ground within her own extensive discography, revisiting fan favorites like “Diva” and “Get Me Bodied” with a new flare that never felt overly rehearsed, despite the fact that Bey’s several months into The Mrs. Carter Show.