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Beyonce turns her spectacular pop tour into something personal

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The spectacle-packed Mrs. Carter World Tour thrilled Las Vegas fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Photo: Frank Micelotta

Four stars

Beyoncé June 29, MGM Grand Garden Arena.

At a certain point during Beyoncé’s Saturday show at MGM Grand Garden Arena—right about when she jumped off a grand piano onto a zipline that carried her over the crowd to a second stage—I had to put away my notebook. So packed with spectacle was every second of the two-hour-and-15-minute Mrs. Carter World Tour, which made its U.S. debut in LA one night earlier, looking away for even a couple of seconds meant potentially missing something jaw-dropping.

But perhaps more impressive than the bells and whistles of the show was Beyoncé’s ability to make the manufactured, well-oiled machine of a pop tour into something that felt personal. You could hear it when her voice quivered on “Flaws and All” and in her pleas to “Help me let down my guard/Make love to me” during “1+1.”

Sure, there were rehearsed clichés—“This is my favorite part of the show, because I get to be close to you guys,” she said upon being lowered onto the floor-level second stage. But her commitment to her fans wasn’t in what was said so much as in the spectacle she gave them. Whether writhing atop a piano, strutting in a freakum dress or adjusting her crown in one of the many fashion editorial-esque videos played between songs, every element in the show seemed to proclaim, “That’s Queen Carter, to you.” Fans don’t expect Beyoncé to be anything less, and in that sense, placing herself on a pedestal is just another way of deferring to them—a reminder that we’re the ones who put her there.

The show’s production read like a formula for a Las Vegas hit: interactive LED screens (used for bold visuals like seductive silhouettes during “Baby Boy” and neon signage during “Party”), pyrotechnics, laser lights, Cirque-worthy choreography and costumes (a sparkling purple catsuit and beaded white epaulettes, to name a few), and, of course, a headlining voice—all of which was executed with simplicity and elegance.

The only area in which the show stumbled was in its 24-song, career-spanning setlist, which nonetheless was executed with ferocity by the 11 women of the band. With the majority of the night’s songs clocking in at under than half their original length, bleacher-bouncing favorites like “Diva,” “Naughty Girl” and “Crazy in Love” were over as soon as you decided to stand to dance to them.

Abridged versions of songs are nothing new for single-churning performers like Beyoncé, and they kept the show from lagging. But in the end, the show felt more like an appetizer sampling of her catalog rather than a full three-course meal. Either way, we were just glad to have gotten a taste.

Set list:

"Run the World (Girls)"

"End of Time"

"Flaws and All"

"You Are a Queen" (Interlude)

"If I Were a Boy" / "Bitter Sweet Symphony"

"Get Me Bodied"

"Baby Boy"

"Diva"

"Naughty Girl"

"Party"

"Freakum Dress"

"I Care"

"I Miss You"

"Schoolin' Life"

"Why Don't You Love Me"

"1+1"

"Irreplaceable"

"Love on Top"

"Survivor"

"Countdown" (Interlude)

"Crazy in Love"

"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" / "Movin' on Up"

"Grown Woman"

"I Will Always Love You"

"Halo"

"Green Light" / "Suga Mama" (Outro)

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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Andrea Domanick is a reporter covering arts, entertainment and the behind the scenes stories of life in Las Vegas. Before ...

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