Standing in the rain at Lincoln Financial Field, I wished for two things: first, that I was allowed to bring an umbrella in the stadium, and second, that Beyoncé would descend from whatever cloud she lives on and grace the stage, already.
The show, one of the last stops on the Formation World Tour, was set to begin at 7:30 on Sept. 29. It wasn’t until 8:00 that opening act DJ Khaled entered to delight us with his greatest talent: playing 30 seconds of other artists’ songs before cutting them off at the best part to plug his new album or thank his mom for his success. It was only slightly less irritating than the rain, and half the audience opted to stand in line for beer or pretzel bites rather than watch his set.
When the lights went down at 9:10, however, we could tell from the first 30 seconds that the real show would be worth the wait. A giant, cuboid screen that had been standing blank and motionless came to life; it revolved slowly while Bey’s face flashed on it, bathed in red light, and disappeared again. It was eerie, but in the best, goosebump-inducing way. Finally, smoke swallowed the stage. A troop of dancers appeared out of nowhere. And with the opening twang of her single “Formation” echoing throughout the stadium, Beyoncé rose from a platform beneath the stage and into sight.
Watching a Beyoncé concert on any night is awe-inspiring, but one in the rain is straight-up incomprehensible. Questions like “Wait, when did she change into that gold unitard?” and “Where did that couch she’s dancing on come from?” are joined by, “How does she not slip while dancing on a wet stage in heels?” and “Why the hell is her makeup and hair still perfect? Is Beyoncé water resistant?”
I wish I could shatter the illusion that Beyoncé exists on some plane above mere mortals, to report at least one flaw to make this anything but the same gush-fest you’ve read again and again, but I can’t. As she strutted, twerked, and belted her way through a setlist of career-spanning hits, Beyoncé had me transfixed.
Big contributors to the wow-factor were her stunning visual displays. Clips from the video companion to her latest album, Lemonade, were a constant presence on that cuboid screen, reminding the audience of the film’s themes: black and female empowerment, betrayal and infidelity, forgiveness and love.
But her best performances were the simpler, more grounded ones. For throwback ballads like “Love on Top” and “Me, Myself and I”, she went a capella, crouching on the stage to hold the mic to fans who knew the words by heart. When she performed two different versions of “Crazy in Love” back-to-back (something only Beyoncé could get away with, by the way), it was the slow, sexy, stripped-down version that stole the show. Her voice was rich and strong as it rang through the stadium. If the entire show was just Beyoncé and a microphone, I doubt anyone would ask for a refund.
No matter what, Beyoncé remained humble and devoted to her fans. Throughout the night she told the ladies of the audience that there is “no such thing as a weak woman,” reminded us that our most important relationship is with ourselves and begged us to hold our loved ones close. After the finale — a rendition of “Halo” that, with fireworks bursting in the background, was somehow both epic and tender — she thanked us for making her dream possible, and for standing out in the rain just to see her.
It was in that moment that I realized something. Only Beyoncé could put on a performance so captivating, it makes the end to a storm imperceptible.