Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Concert review: Beyonce bludgeons crowd at AAC with way-too-loud performance
Backed by an 11-piece all-female rock band, she cranked the volume to Megadeth levels.
DALLAS In 1998, Beyoncé Knowles was just another teen singer in a little-known band called Destiny’s Child, struggling in vain to impress a small audience at a Dave and Busters restaurant near Harry Hines Boulevard.
But as big as she’s gotten, Queen Bey is in some ways still figuring out how to be a live performer. Her show wasn’t so much a concert as an unforgiving shock-and-awe campaign, and her main mistake was bludgeoning the crowd with decibels.
Backed by an 11-piece all-female rock band, she cranked the volume to Megadeth levels and tried to blow fans halfway to Collin County. The approach failed miserably, burying Beyoncé’s voice in a layer of sludge from the top of the arena to the main floor.
Any sound expert will tell you it’s foolish to unleash an 11-piece band at full force inside a huge echo-chamber like the AAC. In fact, fans have complained about the sound in online forums throughout her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.
Yet Beyoncé ignored the obvious and proceeded full steam ahead. The only times you could clearly hear her strong (if indistinct) voice were during the rare quiet moments, such as a lovely encore of “I Will Always Love You.” Otherwise, the concert was like watching a fashion show inside a steel factory.
But what a fashion show it was. Fashionistas in the crowd oohed and ahhed every time Beyoncé unveiled a sparkly new haute couture dress, gown or unitard – although with so many costume changes (I lost count at 10), she spent nearly as much time backstage as she did onstage.
In her absence, fans watched a series of arty videos about their hero and lots of snazzy choreography from her dance troupe. Identical twin dancers Laurent and Larry Bourgeois – looking like Dr. Seuss’s Thing One and Thing Two with their flowing afros – stole the show with gymnastic routines that flirted with the avant-garde.
During the moments when Beyoncé was visible, she cut a dazzling figure as she writhed atop a grand piano and floated through the arena on wires. A bank of high-powered fans gave her blonde hair a permanent windswept look, as if she were sunning herself on the deck of a luxury ocean liner.
She did acknowledge her audience now and again (“I see you up there with that camera!”). But mostly, she played the ice queen, repeatedly freezing in her tracks until fans screamed loud enough to reanimate her.
That’s an old trick, practiced by everyone from James Brown to Michael Jackson. And while Beyoncé’s voice and music isn’t anywhere near their league, at least her eye-popping display of fire, steam, confetti, lights and video looked breathtaking all the way up into the nosebleed seats.
And for fans who came for the spectacle of Beyoncé -- and not necessarily the music -- that was probably good enough.