This weekend, Beyoncé opened the North American leg of her Renaissance World Tour in Canada with two shows in Toronto on July 8 and 9. Two months into the long-awaited concert which began in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 10, Beyoncé demonstrated why even a plethora of spoilers being tweeted, posted, and tagged across the Internet can’t rain on her “Black Parade,” as she relayed her vision of Renaissance in a manner meant to be experienced in person.
The singer took some 50,000 fans inside the Rogers Centre on an emotional two-and-a-half-hour journey through her musical catalog, beginning with a series of beloved ballads, including “Dangerously in Love,” “1+1” and “I Care.” Beyoncé also sang a tribute to her idol, the late Tina Turner, with a rendition of “River Deep – Mountain High” before the arena went black and the true welcome to the Renaissance commenced with “Cozy.” No longer needing to be subtle with her lyrical jabs, the 41-year-old global icon ended the self-affirming song wrapped up in an oversized silver blanket with pillows, making it clear she doesn’t lose sleep over what anyone has to say about her.
Equally impactful moments followed throughout the night, with “Break My Soul,” the lead single from Beyoncé’s seventh studio album released nearly a year ago on July 29, 2022, being among the most spirited. Dressed in hot pink sequin fashions, the veteran performer and her dancers used every inch of the stage to excite the crowd, including the runway stretching into the audience where attendees lucky enough to snag highly coveted floor seats witnessed the numerous dance breaks timed to the track up close and personal. Beyoncé also paid homage to “Queen Mother Madonna” over the “The Queens Remix” of the single which samples the pop icon’s 1990 anthem “Vogue.”
While the large screens positioned over the main stage like an archway served as the primary source of visuals during the concert, one of the more tactile images impressed on concertgoers was the vision of Beyoncé gliding across the stage seated on a silver mechanized tank as she sang “Black Parade.” The song followed a performance of “Formation” and “Run the World (Girls)” during which Beyoncé wore an Ivy Park sequin camouflage bodysuit paired with a cropped sequin camouflage jacket and matching thigh-high boots.
The custom Atelier Ivy Park look conceived by the singer was complemented by archival Ivy Park looks from the Park Trails Collection which were worn by her dancers. The wardrobe spoke to the celebration of Blackness and femininity expressed in the chosen songs which has been characterized as radical by the masses over the years. And as Beyoncé held a Black power fist from the top of her tank for nearly 30 seconds at the end of the song from the soundtrack album The Lion King: The Gift, an understanding of the power of the moment lingered over the crowd as they saluted the symbolism with widespread applause.
Appropriately, Beyoncé used an outfit change and “Church Girl” to transition from one form of revolution to the next. Classics like “Crazy in Love” and “Love on Top” found their place in this liberating dance-filled segment of the night before she entered her ‘70s glam era with live versions of “Plastic off the Sofa” and “Virgo’s Groove” sung from the inside of a giant clam. There was nowhere to look but at the singer as she entranced you with her sensual moves and silky vocals. But just as you think you’re being invited to wind down for the night, Beyoncé returns to the stage in her life-size queen bee costume to remind you “America Has a Problem” and she is indeed it.
Though some have characterized clips of the Renaissance Tour as lacking energy, due to Beyoncé not delivering the precise high-energy dance steps she’s been known for over the course of her decades-long career, there was something about the singer’s commanding presence that suggested she no longer has to. Let the young girls worry about the perfection of eight counts and impressing on-lookers, she seems to be saying with every curl of the lip and cocky facial expression. Beyoncé’s having a renaissance too, and hers seems to be letting loose and giving herself the freedom to simply have fun.