In case you’d forgotten who the International God and Goddess of Pop are, Beyoncé and Mr. Beyoncé (you might know him as Jay Z) provided a subtle reminder on Friday by bursting onstage through a literal cross. In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Carters, Amen.
The fans who made the pilgrimage to New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium were a committed set, since performing one of Beyoncé’s signature dance moves is probably easier than getting to the Meadowlands from New York City. The diverse crowd donned “I Woke Up Like This” t-shirts and cut-off denim shorts, skin-tight jumpsuits and tank tops that read “FLAWLESS,” a reference to Beyoncé’s recent ode to feminism.
Though it was a joint Beyoncé/Jay Z production, the majority of the crowd appeared to have shown up for the former, who made complicated dance routines and vocal acrobatics appear effortless. The setlist included some Jay Z hits that got the stadium pumped — including “Clique,” “N****s In Paris” and “99 Problems” — but most seemed like mere placeholders, allowing time for Beyoncé to change into a different outfit before reclaiming the stage. As the pop diva stomped through girl-power anthems like “Run the World (Girls)” and “Single Ladies,” it became clear this was a show marketed toward women: at one point during “Flawless,” the word FEMINIST flashed on the screen in a pink, capitalized font and the crowd applauded wildly.
To be sure, after over two hours of Jay Z encouraging the crowd to “put your diamonds up” and Beyoncé refusing to dance until the cheering grew loud enough, it was easy to see why some critics have panned the tour as “narcissistic.” Then again, that’s exactly the kind of cult of personality the Carters have cultivated during their rise to the top. They are music royalty, a testament to the power of hustling, and they have no problem telling their audience to “bow down, bitches,” as Beyoncé puts it. For now, at least, their fans are more than happy to oblige.