Billed in advance as a sort of “female Live Aid” aimed at promoting women’s empowerment around the world, the concert at London’s Twickenham Stadium pulled together a star-studded, largely female cast, topped off with a number of attention-grabbing collaborations. But even Jennifer Lopez and Mary J. Blige combining for a version of the Beatles’ “Come Together” or, more oddly, Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon making an unexpected appearance to sing “The Reflex” with Timbaland could not compete with Queen Bey’s spectacular headline slot.
Arriving in a feverish atmosphere pitched somewhere between a bachelorette party and a political rally, Beyoncé began by belting out Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Etta James’ “At Last,” before embarking on a hit-strewn set that produced a crowd reaction every bit as frenzied as any heard when the stadium plays host to England’s international rugby matches.
She brought her husband Jay-Z on to rap during “Crazy in Love” but otherwise the set was all about girl power, with even the impressive choreography overshadowed by hearty singalongs to “Run the World (Girls),” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “Halo,” which was preceded by a quick burst of Whitney Houston/Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”
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