“By age 5, I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” says Beyonce minutes before breaking into the Jackson’s 5’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are” during day two of her “4 Intimate Nights” concert series at Roseland Ballroom in New York City.
“This is going to be a little different, she adds. “More intimate.”
As promised, for the next hour and a half, Beyonce guides the 3,200 eager fans through the milestones of her career, from her days as a 5-year-old glued to the television, watching Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, experiencing crushing rejection during the early days of Destiny’s Child, fame, and growing into her womanhood. It was an evening dedicated to her musical, and personal evolution.
Bey began by celebrating her days with Destiny’s Child, telling the stories behind each of their biggest hits, before breaking into snippets of “Non, No, No,” “Bugaboo,” and “Bills, Bills, Bills,” among others. It’s soon clear that a lot of DC’s girl-power anthems were powered by her commitment to songs that “celebrated a woman’s courage,” she says.
Those songs didn’t come without criticism, of course. “They called us male bashers, they called us gold diggers,” she says. “With a lot of success comes a lot of negativity… They were being nasty, but it inspired me,” so inspired that she wrote “Survivor.”
The second half of the show is dedicated to the older, wiser Beyonce: Mrs. Sean Carter, the woman. Here she runs through every song from her current album, “4.” We’ve heard her tell why that number is so special — her birthday is September 4th, Jay-Z’s birthday is December 4th, “and on April 4th, 2008,” somebody put a ring on it, she says joyfully before breaking into “Single Ladies.”
We also get to see a woman so in love with her husband that she’s written tons of songs in his honor. “I focused all my teenage years on building my career, ’til one day I fell in love,” she says before singing “Bonnie and Clyde.” On “Dangerously in Love” she asks, “Have you ever been so in love you just let everything go?” It’s a touching tribute to their love. Seeing Bey shed some of the layers of her celebrity and get so personal makes you love her even more. Side note: Jay-Z was spotted at the venue, but did not perform.
On songs like “Rather Die Young” and “Party,” Bey reminds us her vocal chops are what got her here. “Love on Top” is performed on bended knee, and girlfriend goes through four key changes — quite a feat for any singer.
Bey ended the night on a triumphant note with the song “I Was Here.”
“I was here, I lived, I learned,” she belted; the song of a woman loving her legacy. Diana Ross and Michael Jackson would be proud.