There’s a new entertainment venue in Atlantic City. On Friday night, Beyonce owned it.
Standing alone in front of a flash of bright floodlights, Beyonce, at first seen only as a shadow, struck pose after pose to drum beats as the crowd momentum inside Revel’s Ovation Hall began to build. By the time the lights revealed the singer, wearing a short, silver-fringed top and skirt and singing her hit “Till the End of Time,” the audience had wrapped itself into a frenzy. The stands in the sold-out hall were vibrating.
And Beyonce, a mere five months after giving birth to her first child, was back.
Beyonce kicked off the first of what will be a four-show stop in Atlantic City over the holiday weekend with a nonstop performance that delivered in every way. The concert was Beyonce’s first since giving birth to her daughter, Blue Ivy (with hip-hop mogul husband Jay-Z), in January. She will be performing again today, Sunday and Monday as Revel celebrates its grand opening weekend.
Beyonce herself had talked of pre-performance nervousness leading up to the much-hyped shows, considered by many to be one of the biggest concert events this summer. But if there were any nervous jitters on this stage, they certainly didn’t show.
As Beyonce headed alone to the center of the stage after singing her hit “Love on Top,” she paused for a moment and stared out at the crowd, seeming to take it all in. Beyonce looked, instead, like there was no place she would rather be.
“I have to say, it feels so good to be home on the stage,” Beyonce said to the cheering crowd. “And I am so happy to share this moment with you.”
The show itself is a spectacle for the senses, complete with lighting designs that take full advantage of Ovation Hall’s panoramic light-up wall and light-up floor. Beyonce’s eight-piece band (including a fantastic horn section) and three backup singers stood atop six giant, lighted cubes above the stage, and could have served as their own independent light and sound show.
Fans, too — some of whom dished out upwards of $1,000 or more for front row seats — seemed to enjoy all the special effects.
Choreography, while strong, was noticeably lighter than on previous Beyonce tours. It’s a move that was likely done on purpose as the singer makes a gradual return to a heavier touring schedule (As of now, the Revel performances are her only scheduled shows. Additional tour dates have yet to be announced). Still, with the exception of a few down-tempo ballads, the dancing for this show is nonstop, and well incorporated with the unique lighting designs.
Then there is Beyonce’s voice. The singer, who is known for always singing completely live (an achievement in pop music), hit every note, sounding stronger than ever.
Costume changes were quick and playful, and showcased Beyonce’s pretty impressive post-baby physique. Leading into her hit “Naughty Girl,” Beyonce took to the stage dressed as a showgirl — complete with heavy headdress — not missing a beat as she fell to the floor with her dancers, the lighting making their feathers appear to glow in the dark.
“Did you come to party tonight?” Beyonce asked the crowd. “I didn’t hear you.”
The screaming, somehow, got even louder.
Opening the show for Beyonce was R&B up-and-comer Luke James, whose debut album, "Made To Love,” will be released this summer. With a playful, flirty banter and a style that recalls the classic bedroom ballads of the early 1990s, James, backed by a four-piece band, earned the love of the crowd with covers of classics such as “Let Me Love You Down” and “Pretty Brown Eyes.”
His brief breaks to flirt with the audience earned some laughs from the crowd.
“I’ll take you to Micky D’s girl, buy you a fish filet,” James semi-whispered into the mic, followed by a quick, “I’m just kiddin’, girl.”
But James really proved to the crowd why he was Beyonce’s opening choice with his new single, “I Want You,” a fun ballad showcasing James’ Prince-like falsetto.