Beyoncé has Belfast eating out of her hands
Beyoncé-mania gripped the Odyssey last night. There was that palpable sense of excitement, as on a first date that might lead to something, when couples, families, women, men and fans thronged the stadium.
They'd dressed for the occasion too, displaying almost as many sequins as the woman they'd come to see. Asking Chloe (12), pausing by the turnstile, why she liked Beyoncé, she said: “For herself.”
That's a good answer. And the way Beyoncé conjures different selves — pop diva, feminist, sexy babe, demure singer — is impressive. We ran past the male cleaner joining in the first number, Crazy In Love, to enjoy the set.
You know you're uber-famous when you can lop off your surname. To Madonna, Kylie and Britney one can now add the name Beyoncé. The former Ms Knowles has outgrown her apprenticeship with Destiny's Child to become possibly the world's biggest R&B star. And on the evidence of this bouncy, versatile performance, she deserves that position.
At times, when belting out the raunchier numbers such as Alanis Morissette's You Oughta Know, Beyoncé came across as nothing less than an embryonic Tina Turner. One alter ego that went down very well with the audience was ushered in by If I Were A Boy with red lighting indicating the Sasha Fierce persona. While young Chloe appreciated the essence of this complex personality, with the gorgeous hair that she throws about at all opportunities, two thirtysomething men sitting near me possibly appreciated other qualities.
There's no doubting the steamy delivery, the ability to strut her stuff with those amazing legs (clad in fishnets for one section) and her sense of theatre. Beyoncé sinks to the floor with a sensual twist early on, wiggles her Thierry Mugler bustle during a glorious interpretation of Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby, then confounds everybody with a truly spiritual Ave Maria.
This involved a conversion of her raunchy white swimsuit into a kind of wedding dress — very bride of Christ and naturally, very beautiful.
We were lucky enough to be witnessing the last night of Beyoncé's I Am...Tour. Of course, that's part of her recent album title but it's also what the show does. We saw many Beyoncés including an acrobat as the diva, who swept aloft on wires, performed somersaults way above our heads before returning to earth.
There was something unearthly and religious about the whole experience with the audience providing enough adulation to reverse decline in church attendance. After the acrobatics Beyoncé led the audience in a kind of singalong of To The Left. She had all sections of the Odyssey eating out of her elegant hands.
What also made the night special was the special effects from videos of Beyoncé apparently taming a leopard to super-dramatic entrances down rising stairways.
We saw her as an engaging child, singing and dancing. We saw her against a video of a raging sea, all in white, singing.
But why do we like her so much? I think it's to do with her warmth. Somehow, although she's the boss, we feel deep down the woman, who acted a famous catfight recently in Obsessed, is married to Jay-Z and hangs out with Gwyneth and Chris Martin, is like us in some way. More beautiful, sexier but still recognisably human.
One of my male neighbours said anxiously: “You will say how good she is, won't you?” To the super-critical, her voice was very occasionally tired, but, yes, I will. Beyoncé, Belfast loves you.