Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure, respectively, of watching Beyoncé and Jay Z perform for something like three hours. The concert, at CenturyLink Field, was the last date of their On the Run II tour. The Carters performed some songs together, and others solo.
Jay has so many hits, and played a ton of them—Dirt Off Your Shoulders, Song Cry, Public Service Announcement, 99 Problems, Big Pimpin’, N***** in Paris, etc.—and it was fun to listen. But he’s no longer at the peak of his powers. Jay was fine.
Beyoncé, of course, was perfect. Every element of her performance was a study in mastery and craft. Her dancing is peerless, her taste and style are unimpeachable. Beyoncé’s singing was virtuosic—not in the sense of her usable range, which is impressive—but in her sense of phrasing, attack, variation and improvisation, and so on. Her sense of the musical moment, her choices and taste, were sublime. That is all the more remarkable since she was, again, dancing her ass off and the temperature was in the 40s.
Anyway, duh. Saying Beyoncé is good is banal to the extreme. Somehow, Beyoncé always brings the goods, and that makes superlatives useless. We expect it, maybe even take it for granted. How can someone be better if she is always best?
Let me put it this way. I was in Paris a few weeks ago (it was great, thanks for asking,) and went to a museum called the Musée de l’Orangerie. This museum is more obscure and much smaller than the Louvre, which you may recall the Carters took over for a full day—just because they could—for a recent video and photo shoot.
The Musée de l’Orangerie is the home of Claude Monet’s opus, the Water Lillies. To be specific, eight mural-size Water Lilly paintings, each made up of several large canvases, reside in the Musée de l’Orangerie, in two otherwise blank oval rooms designed to Monet’s specifications.
You are invited to sit on the comfortable, padded benches in the middle of these rooms and look for as long as you want at the paintings. I was entranced by Monet’s mastery, and the beauty he painted. I only had an hour to look, but I would have stayed for two, eight, or seventeen.
Watching Beyoncé perform last night was just like that. I was deeply moved, and I’ll never forget it.