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CD Reviews:
Beyonce's Palace Show A Real Experience
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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AUBURN HILLS -- After a couple of multi-platinum solo albums, a slew of hit singles and some successful movie roles, Beyonce Knowles doesn't do concerts any more. She presents experiences.

So the Beyonce Experience rolled into the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday night (Aug. 17) with all the accoutrements you'd expect from such a designation. It was a two-hour song-and-dance spectacle, elaborately staged and choreographed, with plenty of costume changes (the bumblebee-styled bikini for "Get Me Bodied" was a particular favorite) and video support and just a smattering of pyrotechnics to glitter things up a bit. In the film version of "Dreamgirls" Beyonce played the Diana Ross character, but on the concert stage she was every bit an updated version of the Motown diva, from the oversized personality to the mainstream-friendly pop and R&B repertoire that was well-suited to the racial and age mix of the Palace crowd.

Beyonce and company -- a 23-person ensemble with 10 dancers and a 10-member, all-female band -- didn't waste much time getting things started after a convincing 40-minute opening set by pop-soul singer Robin Thicke. Emerging from under the stage in a glittering gown, with a curtain of fireworks behind her, Beyonce launched into her 2003 chart-topper "Crazy in Love" and kept the heats coming throughout the night, a parade that included "Baby Boy," "Dangerously in Love," "Me, Myself and I," "Freakum Dress," "Naughty Girl," "Check On It," "Deja Vu" and "Beautiful Liar."

She reviewed her days in Destiny's Child with a 20-minute medley that ran from "Independent Women" to "Survivor," with a slowed-down snippet of "Bug a Boo" and a visit to "Say My Name" in which she had the Palace crowd shouting for "Beyonce!" rather than for the group. Beyonce also judiciously took part in the dance routines, showing she could sing, act and shake her booty but never to an extreme that compromised her vocal performance.

The show's length was a bit -- but only a bit -- of an issue, and most of the interludes to allow for costume changes were surprisingly, and refreshingly, short. The latter part of the show, however -- another medley of sorts that cruised through album tracks such as "Ring the Alarm," "Suga Mamma" and "Bonnie and Clyde '03" -- seemed a bit muddled and might have been better served with fewer songs but fuller versions of them.

But by the time she closed things out with "Listen" from the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack and her own "Irreplaceable," complete with crowd participation, things were bootylicious once again. The Beyonce Experience, it's fair to say, was a good one.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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