Photographer: Mason Poole

Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour Is A Love Letter To Black Queer Culture

Queen Bee’s renowned Renaissance tour arrived in London last Tuesday, transforming Tottenham Hotspur Stadium into a glittering disco-themed ball.

PHOTOGRAPHY By Mason Poole, with thanks to Satellite 414

Don’t even waste your time trying to compete with me / No one else in this world can think like me”, declared Beyoncé to over 40,000 manic fans. Gazing up at the spectacle surrounding me from the stalls of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday night, it’s pretty hard to argue with her.

At a time in human history where pretty much everything is designed to be viewed either on or through the small screen, Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour is truly a you-had-to-be-there experience. A feast for the senses, the phenomenal five-night run in London started on May 29th following performances in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Sunderland. 

Taking to the stage in a breathtaking crimson custom Alexander McQueen minidress, Beyoncé opened with ‘I Care’, ‘1+1’ and the title track from her 2003 debut album Dangerously in Love. The powerful opening reminded fans of her otherworldly vocal chops (as if we needed any reminding) and provided a moment of awe-inspired calm amid the excitement before launching into an emotional rendition of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’, a tribute to the late Tina Turner.

Favourites from I am… Sasha Fierce may have been absent from the setlist, but this wasn’t an anthology of Beyoncé’s greatest hits – that tour, I’m sure, remains far in her future – the throwback tracks provided sonic context to her Renaissance evolution, carefully woven through remixes of her recent hits. In particular, a brief rendition of ‘Sweet Dreams’ amid her mega-hit ‘Alien Superstar’ enthralled audiences, while performances of ‘Formation’ and ‘Run The World (Girls)’ had crowds busting into dance circles and hollering memorised lyrics at the top of their lungs. 

The sight of 11-year-old Blu Ivy during ‘My Power’ inspired more excitement from the Bey-hive, with the mother-daughter duo fist-bumping mid-dance break in a matching Off-White glittering boilersuit and bodysuit.

This is just one of many spectacular outfits worn throughout her performance – Beyoncé’s custom LOEWE crystalised catsuit, David Koma carnival-inspired minidress, Courage mirrored bodysuit and custom Vivienne Westwood caged corset are highlights among a showstopping wardrobe selection.

The concert is split into seven acts chronicling her Renaissance reign, proving its ‘no-skips’ reputation. With each outfit change or dance break, the show’s visuals take over and are so impressive you almost don’t notice Bey has momentarily left the stage, teasing shots from the album’s unreleased and highly sought-after visual counterpart. Dancing robotic arms, a mirrored tank, a massive disco ball and the 50ft horse Reneigh all graced the stage, each one transforming the football stadium into new, unimaginable worlds.

Despite all the on-stage bravado, Beyoncé’s performance was perhaps her most intimate yet. The opening act ballads allow for candid moments between Queen Bee, sitting atop a metallic grand piano, with fans seated on the stage and throughout the evening she could be seen interacting with the most dedicated in Club Renaissance, grinning and winking to on-stage cameras and letting loose in a way that even superfans have rarely witnessed. 

Above all, Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour is a love letter to Black queer culture, with nods to ballroom and the album’s musical influences. Much like the album, the tour showcases her allyship and celebrates the influence Harlem Ballroom has had on contemporary music and pop culture. On the tour, Beyoncé is joined by a talented dance troupe featuring ballroom stars Darius Hickman and Honey Gonzales voguing to samples of underground drag legends Kevin Aviance and Moi Renee for the show’s ‘House of Renaissance Ball’, providing joyful queer representation that felt authentic and triumphant.

The stadium screens opened with the progressive Pride flag, and as the show closed – following a final performance of ‘Summer Renaissance’ suspended above the audience – audiences were left with a final visual – a photograph of her late gay “godmother”, Uncle Jonny. Last year, Beyoncé published a heart-wrenching love letter to her Uncle, who she dedicated the album to for introducing her to the music and culture that has inspired her ever since. She said, “Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long. This is a celebration for you.”

The entire Renaissance album and tour serve as a personal thanks that resonated with so many audience members who identify as LGBTQIA+, recognising and celebrating how both parties have supported one another for decades. Beyoncé’s tour hasn’t just raised the bar on typical album tours, she’s ascended to a new level of stardom. 

For more information about The Renaissance World Tour, visit Beyoncé’s official website.

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