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Beyoncé's Big Night

Beyoncé's big night: Superstar singer returns home and feels the love at high-energy show

Beyonce stare
Beyonce commanded the stage like a true music superstar in her Houston concert. Photo courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment
Beyonce fireworks
The fireworks came out when Beyonce hit the Toyota Center. Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment
Beyonce Toyota Center outside
Beyonce fans lined up outside the Toyota Center and waited to get in to see their Queen Bey. Photo by Chinh Phan
Beyonce white solo
Beyonce is wearing plenty of white on this concert tour — and bringing it. Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment
Beyonce concert white
Beyonce knows how to entertain a crowd. Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment
Beyonce stare
Beyonce fireworks
Beyonce Toyota Center outside
Beyonce white solo
Beyonce concert white

There are a lot of bleary-eye Beyoncé fans this morning. The superstar singer brought The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour to her hometown Monday night and just about blew the roof off the Toyota Center with a high-energy, thrill-packed, two-hour show that lasted until almost midnight and left the sold-out crowd exhausted from a nearly non-stop sing-along dance marathon.

"I'm home," she said to deafening applause just before launching into her third song of the evening, "Flaws and All." "Houston means so much to me. No matter where I go, it's who I am. I hope I make you guys proud."

 "I'm home," she said to deafening applause. "Houston means so much to me. No matter where I go, it's who I am. I hope I make you guys proud." 

The singer has been on tour nearly non-stop since April, having already appeared in 47 European and U.S. cities on an extended jaunt that will last through December. Yet she made it seem like she was performing the show for the first time with an undisguised glee to be in front of a hometown crowd and a near-pathological desire to entertain.

Backed by an 11-piece female band, three back-up singers known as The Mamas, several female dancers and two male dancers called Les Twins, Beyoncé whipped through 24 songs — a mix of hip hop-tinged hits, female empowerment anthems and irresistible dance tunes (how can you not shake to "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)?") — and eight costume changes. She and the dancers almost never stopped moving (she should patent a workout program of knee bends and hair flips) and while some of the numbers were a little cheesy — as she sang "Diva," the dancers twirled around her with feather fans like a Busby Berkeley musical —they were almost always riveting.

The set-up of the show played to her strengths. The entire floor of the Toyota Center was general admission standing room only, so fans packed close to the main stage at one end and a secondary stage at the other end. Nothing kills a show faster than older people who have paid a lot for floor seats and never stand up (Eric Clapton's spring show was a prime example); that certainly wasn't a problem here as the enthusiasm of the crowd, mostly under 35 and a mosaic of Houston's diversity, provided an electric spark that seemed to energize the singer.

Toward the end of the show, she flew above the crowd like Peter Pan to the other stage even closer to the audience, where she sang three of her biggest hits, "Irreplaceable," Love on Top," and the Destiny's Child hit, "Survivor," and declared, "I love this part of the show because I'm close to you guys."

 As a gift to her Houston audience, she threw in “Bow Down,” a chopped and screwed ode to her present success and her childhood in H-Town. It's the first time she has performed the song in concert. 

She also positioned ecstatic fans near the stage for the closer, the hit "Halo," and waded among her admirers as she hit all the high notes.

While other singers might be loathe to play other performers' dance hits before they take to the stage, Beyoncé had no such worries. The audience grooved to songs by Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake and the whole side of the arena stood up and danced The Wobble as they waited for the singer to take the stage around 9:40 p.m. By the time she launched into her first song, "Run the World (Girls)," with all-out dance choreography, the audience was primed and ready to party.

And she didn't stop. Whether it was writhing atop a piano in a sequined blue catsuit and matching heels to the sensual song "1 + 1," channeling her Sasha Fiercest in a green leopard mini and shimmying like Tina Turner to "Why Don't You Love Me?" or adding a military cadence to a mashup of "If I Were a Boy" with The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony," Beyoncé commanded the crowd's attention.

As a gift to her Houston audience, she threw in  “Bow Down,” a chopped and screwed ode to her present success and her childhood in H-Town. It's the first time she has performed the song in concert.

By the time she got to "Halo," preceded by a Whitney Houston-worthy version of "I Will Always Love You," her voice was almost spent. But she wouldn't stop and closed the concert with a powerhouse vocal performance.

Earlier in the evening, she told the audience that she was so lucky to have their support. "I will never take it for granted," she vowed.

We believe her.

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