It was the kind of show you'd expect from two of the greatest living performers on Earth.
Mr. and Mrs. Carter — Beyoncé, queen (Bey) of pop, and husband rap mogul, Jay Z, king of hip hop — held court Friday night at Minute Maid Park, where thousands of screaming fans were packed to the rafters for a two-and-a-half-hour fire-breathing, ground-shaking spectacle of a concert.
The concert went well, but the preparations did not.
Disorganization and miscommunication among the ticketing staff led to extremely long wait times outside the gates of the downtown stadium, where some concertgoers had paid up to $80 to park. Lines wrapped around the sports palace, even for those who had already purchased tickets.
By show time, hundreds were still stuck outside. At least they had time to inspect the fashion parade.
Many Houston women waited in Bey-inspired outfits that ranged from white halter-tops with flannel button-ups around the waist a la Destiny’s Child to tight-fitting onesies of all colors — so many onesies. Many men wore dapper Jay-Z-inspired white suits paired with dark-framed sunglasses.
Shadow of a cross
Inside, shortly after 9 p.m., the King and Queen of Pop appear from behind the shadow of a cross — as if we needed more proof that they believe in their divinity. She wore a black cowboy hat instead of the net veil at previous shows —no doubt in tribute to her Texas roots.
Beyoncé and Jay Z are musical opposites. Her structural intensity counterbalances his suave, easy coolness.
From that perch, Bey and Jay blasted through a discography of more than 40 of the hit titles they've churned out in solo careers that have collectively spanned more than two decades.
The staggering size of their set list meant that songs were inevitably cut short, but overall, the combination worked. Beyoncé and Jay Z are musical opposites. Her structural intensity counterbalances his suave, easy coolness. Their individual styles — his syncopated brassy calm and her steely-eyed intensity — seemed to not only to sustain the rhythm of the performance, it enhanced it.
It was clear from their swift entrances and exits that the show was about their autonomy as musical legends, as they only sang a few songs together. However, when they did combine their powers, such as on the recent smash “Drunk in Love,” it was magic.
There was a lot of give and take, but there was no question of who was controlling the stage. Bey was empowered.
After Jay killed “Big Pimpin’,” he sat down on a throne of glass, which began to turn. It then revealed Beyoncé sitting down on the other side – just one of the many quick-changes and musical transitions.
The entire show was seemingly meant to be fast, from one song to the next. Even “On to the Next One” was shortened. One singer would hold out a long chord and slip into darkness, then the other would appear and take over.
There was a lot of give and take, but there was no question of who was controlling the stage. Bey was empowered — she was the one most of the crowd came to see. And she knew it. As a subtle tribute to the Lone Star State, she had one biker jacket that was jewel-studded with the word "Texas" as one of her many costume changes.
But if you came for the fire, the couple did not disappoint.
Curtains of sparks fell behind the Queen as she sang her hit, “All the Single Ladies,” and two towers of fire shot up from behind Jay during several songs.
Maybe I was being naive, but even after 40 songs, I still expected an encore. This would not be the case. The two walked together off the stage to thunderous applause, leaving their fans wanting more.
See the spectacular opening of the concert here: