Photo Credit: Beyoncé & Parkwood

The 1st of June of 2023 is one for the books. That day, the woman that sparked my love for showmanship and music reminded me of why my fascination for the craft runs so deep. The Renaissance World Tour kick started with a sentimental tone. Beyoncé opened the experience with her most infamous ballad: Dangerously in love, a gesture many veteran members of the Behive surely appreciated as much as I did. This opening was a revival of who she once was as a nouveau soloist and a reminder of the long way she has come as not only a performer, but also a vocalist. Beyoncé's voice has matured beautifully, and possesses an unfathomable level of range and versatility palpable throughout the, almost, 3-hours long show. 

One of the highlights of the show is the music production and arrangement. The beginning of the show is solemn and intimate and includes a heartfelt tribute to the incomparable Tina Turner, followed by a soulful cover of Mary J. Blige hit, I'm Goin' Down. The magnitude of Beyoncé's catalogue expands throughout the rest of the show,  maintaining the essence of her sound, which is also infused with a layer of music history. The sounds of artists such as Vanity 6, Prince, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, among many others, are integrated into the performance, adding a level of complexity and vibrance to the base of every song. 

Photo Credit: Beyoncé & Parkwood

The Renaissance World Tour is also a show of liberation and reconfiguration. The futuristic theme accompanied by high end visuals matched the celebratory spirit of the performance. Beyoncé is vastly known for her attention to detail and perfectionism on stage. That is an aspect she has freed herself from this time around. While the production counts with intricate visuals and choreography, the approach of the live mirrors the Ballroom culture. One that embraces impromptu self-expression and the manifestation of creativity through dancing, strutting and speech. This culture is composed of "houses":

Ballroom culture consists of unique values, and social structures. In the 1960s, with the revitalisation of ball culture, many of the participants felt that they could not openly express their sexuality and gender identity within their biological families. To fill this void, groups called "houses" or “families” emerged. Houses serve as many ball participants' only source of family.

In the remixed version of Break My Soul, the album's single, Beyoncé pays homage to the musical legends she looks up to, as well as the houses that have fuelled and built the structure of the album. Such as: House of Xtravaganza; House of Revlon; House of LaBeija; House of Amazon, etc. As the show progresses, it's clear Beyoncé is presenting her house; "The House of Renaissance". She is "mother" of a diverse group of dancers that bring to life the nuances of Ballroom. A culture she was once introduced to by her late uncle, who is mentioned at the core of the show in one of the most iconic songs on the album: Heated. The climax of the song was chanted by the entire stadium as an emotional Beyoncé strutted to the center of the stage to the anthem she dedicated to uncle Johnny. The entirety of the show was filled with more gems, like Blue Ivy's performance and the dancers' interlude. Also, an honorable mention is due to the band and background singers. They were the core of the performance and did a seamless job. Equally, I was personally amazed by the structure of the stage and its scale. So, kudos to the technical crew behind this show, because it is indeed massive. 

Finally, it's imperative to address the speculations that have risen due to the magnitude of this show. Many think this might be Beyoncé's last goodbye before her retirement. Throughout the more than two decades of artistry, Beyoncé has managed to, continuously, delve into different sounds and imagery that have pushed boundaries in regards to race, gender, sexuality and womanhood. However, that compromise has become more apparent with her latest projects, a signifier of the fact that her control over her artistry is now mostly monopolised by herself, enabling her to be more open and unapologetic whilst speaking about taboos or hidden realities that have been alive for a long time underneath the mainstream. Therefore, the grandiosity of this show is only an example of the path she is now craving for herself as an artist. It's not a goodbye, it is a re-introduction.