When Jay-Z headlined England’s Glastonbury Festival in 2009 the firestorm of controversy was huge! – Inappropriate comments were flying as fans declared “Rap doesn’t belong at Glastonbury.” Suffice to say the naysayers were proven wrong, the lesson was learnt, and the stage was set for Jay-Z‘s wife Beyoncé to take the crown and close Glastonbury 2011.
There was no controversy surrounding 29-year-old Beyoncé Knowles’ performance, just curiosity – What is going to happen when the biggest R’n’B star in the world takes to the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. The answer: An amazing combination of fireworks, choreography, and great music which combined to create one of the best Glastonbury closing performances of the festival’s 40 year history.
In classic Diva fashion, she was late to the stage, prompting Boos from the audience before she rose out of a hydraulic platform. As she opened with her biggest hit “Crazy in Love”, all was forgiven as the audience were left with their jaws on the floor wondering how she’s going to top this opening song. Considering she spent almost a month rehearsing 10 hours a day at studios in London, it should come as no surprise the the show went upwards and onwards from there.
There were more fireworks as she moved onto “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it).” Sections of the audience can be seen dancing along to the song, just as sure footed as Beyoncé on stage. At this stage one could only imagine the injuries if the audience did the same with the more ‘up-beat’ sections of choreography in “Girls (Rule the World).”
Testament to her skill as a performer, she was just as comfortable singing covers as she was her own material. She took on “Sweet Dreams” (The Eurythmics), “The Beautiful Ones” (Prince), “Sex On Fire” (Kings Of Leon), and “At Last” (Etta James) with an amazing passion and energy that could only come from Beyoncé. The Etta James classic was performed over footage of the civil rights movement and President Obama’s inauguration as the first black president of the United States on the video screens. The sombre passion in her voice was markedly different to the flowing up-beat tone of the rest of the show, but the variety was certainly welcome.
The “Bootylicious” singer engaged the audience fantastically between songs and sang happy birthday to some guy called Steve, much to the bemusement of the audience. Nonetheless, her comments such such as “We are all Rock Stars tonight” and “You’re witnessing a dream” went down a treat and blew up all over Twitter during her performance. Footage of festival-goers in the mud during her performance of “Halo” was also welcomed, and showed a true connection with the audience.
Beyonce at Glastonbury 2011 was the epitome of everything a good performance should be. Up-beat, Edgy, Diverse, and above all Entertaining. No ‘wardrobe malfunctions’, falls, lip-syncing, or other distractions (no matter how entertaining those distractions may be…). Just good music, good choreography, and one fantastic performance to bring the most prominent music festival in the world to a fitting close.