After a seven year hiatus, Beyoncé is back on stage and more breathtaking than ever as the European leg of her epic Renaissance World Tour gets underway.
Queen Bey is back with her spectacular Renaissance World Tour, the megastar’s first solo tour in seven years.
She kicked things off with her first performance in Stockholm, Sweden last week (10 May), but the 41-year-old singer is currently in the UK, having played to colossal, cowboy hat-wearing crowds in the Welsh capital Cardiff on 17 May.
"You could have been anywhere in the world tonight, but you choose to be here with me," Beyoncé told the audience after taking to the stage.
The tour's 43-date run, which is due to end in September 2023, is a no-expenses spared extravaganza of out of this world visuals and kick-ass choreography that proves once again why Beyoncé is considered one of the greatest performers of the 21st century.
Featuring everything from dancing robots to a giant disco ball horse named Reneigh, the show is bathed in a sparkly space age aesthetic that embodies the fizzy futurism and dancehall energy of the singer's Grammy-award winning Renaissance: Act I album.
The costume changes throughout are frequent and fantastical, a dazzling collection of gold glittering catsuits, metallic corsets and holographic cowboy boots, many of which were designed by the likes of fashion houses Alexander McQueen, David Koma and Loewe.
At three hours long, the set list also includes a vast array of back catalogue classics from Beyonce’s 20-plus year career, including her 2003 chart-topper Crazy in Love and 2013’s dizzying dance number, Drunk in Love.
It will come as no surprise that demand for tickets to the tour has been huge, with the Beyhive (a collective name for Beyoncé’s fanbase) waiting in seemingly endless online queues and paying sky-high prices to attend the once in a lifetime event.
There were reports that some UK tickets were being sold for over £2,300 (approximately €2,652) on the website Ticketmaster, while the north London football club Tottenham Hotspur even breached its events license by adding another date.
Released on 29 July 2022, Renaissance: Act I is Beyoncé’s seventh solo studio album, which she recorded during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Infused with groovy disco vibes, it's an empowering, sass-spilling record of feel good dance floor-fillers that pay tribute to Black and queer communities. The album is dedicated to her uncle Johnny, who died from an HIV-related illness in the 1990s; The songstress refers to him as her “godmother and first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album” in the album's liner notes.
There have never been any music videos released from the album, so this tour will be the first time fans get to experience visual concepts to accompany the songs.
Is Beyoncé retiring?
Rumours recently began circulating on social media that this could be Beyoncé’s farewell tour. The sheer scale of the show and its inclusion of so many career-spanning songs - including some, such as Dangerously in Love and 1+1, that are apparently never usually performed - was enough to get the Beyhive buzzing with speculative theories.
“Beyoncé is going to retire after this. Something about the vibe of this concert is giving “thanks for everything",” wrote one social media user.
“Beyonce has never been so unserious and playful on tour. Especially to start off. That woman is retiring I can feel it,” wrote another.
But outside of this TikTok-fuelled paranoia, there’s really not much evidence to support it being true.
In a 2021 interview with Harper's Bazaar, the singer made it clear that she has no plans to hang up her mic: "I want to continue to turn these industries upside down. I plan to create businesses outside of music. I have learned that I have to keep on dreaming.”
A lot of this online speculation also plays into ageism, especially in the music industry, where women in particular are often considered past their peak once over 40.
“The fact that Beyoncé is only 41 and y’all think she’s never touring again,” said a social media user, while another agreed, referencing other older famous female singers that have continued performing, including Mariah Carey, Anita Baker and Tina Turner, who last toured aged 69.
Renaissance has been announced as a three-act project and we're only at act 1, so we can be almost certain that Queen Bey won't be taking her crown off any time soon.