At the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, the clock reads ten o’clock at night. Beyoncé eventually takes a break from her marathon-like Renaissance Tour performance to address the audience after nearly two hours had passed since the show began. She utters those words while gazing in awe at the throngs of individuals who, on July 29, made the journey to one of the tour’s most highly awaited sites. “Thank you for coming,” she says.”I can’t believe some of you have been here for 20 years already.”
That would be me. Beyoncé was first brought to my attention when I was six years old, not long after the publication of her first studio album, Dangerously in Love. I can still picture myself sitting in the backseat of the car, holding the CD while gazing in awe at the mystery woman in the sparkly top, whose angelic singing blared through our sound system. Beyoncé is still a mystery to me even now, twenty years after her debut, and possibly even more so after her most recent album, Renaissance, which was released in 2022. Beyoncé, who is 41 years old and has three children and seven albums under her belt, still has the voice of an angel despite the fact that she can sing like there’s an angel stuck in her throat. (She also hasn’t given up on wearing ensembles with glittery embellishments.)
The audience of 80,000 people erupts into a deafening roar as soon as Beyoncé concludes her address. The ground is shaking. The air is filled with glittery particles. When I look at her on the jumbotron, I am certain that I see a tear in her eye. Beyoncé smiles warmly at the crowd, and everyone erupts into applause once more. It is not necessary for her to elaborate farther than that. We do understand. Beyoncé is in a league of her own. Simply put, the moment has come to commemorate the Renaissance.
On May 10th, the Renaissance Tour got under way in Stockholm, which is located in Sweden. Following their time in Africa, Beyoncé and her group made their way across Europe on their way to North America. By the time Beyoncé made it to New Jersey, footage from her earlier performances had already been posted online. Even a cursory inspection of the silver-hued event gave the impression that Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour had the potential to become her most successful work to date as well as her most attended show of all time.
Forbes estimates that the Renaissance Tour will bring in somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.1 billion by the time it comes to an end in September. If Beyoncé is successful in her endeavor, she will become the female performer with the highest total revenue of all time. This accomplishment is presently held by Madonna, who, as of July 2022, had raked in a total of $1.4 billion from her performances. The next artist on the list is Taylor Swift, whose currently-running Eras Tour is expected to bring in a total of $1.9 billion in revenue. Billboard reports that Beyoncé has earned more than $154 million from only the tour dates for her European leg of her world tour, putting her in excellent position to claim the number one slot.
As a fan, I went to see the Renaissance Tour, just like the rest of the people in this audience. But I was a supporter on a mission that lasted over twenty years. We are all aware that Beyoncé is Beyoncé (after all, you don’t make $154 million on a whim), but I was curious as to what I may pick up from seeing her perform live, including dancing and singing along with her and, of course, interacting with the Beyhive.
One of the first persons I run into is Zahir, who is beaming with confidence while wearing a top covered in sequins. I merely inquire as to his reasons for admiring Beyoncé. He utters the phrase, “Her Blackness. She is so in touch with her femininity as well as her voice. Rickey Mile, who calls himself a superfan, is the next person I have a conversation with. He appears to be completely bewildered, as if there are no questions regarding the brilliance of Beyoncé that can be asked. “She’s timeless,” he says to describe it. It does not matter when you see Beyoncé, what is going on in her personal life, or which era of her business she is in, according to Mile, the woman always puts up a good show.
After going on the Renaissance Tour, I’m forced to say that you’re right. Beyoncé’s uncle Johnny, who is gay and was the person who first turned her on to dance music, is being honored with a concert and an album named in his honor. To suggest that Renaissance would fill him with pride would be understating the matter. It’s one big queer party, and there are references to drag icons like Kevin Aviance and Moi Renee, as well as a guest appearance by the internet sensation Honey Balenciaga, who does ballroom dancing. The concert lasted for three consecutive hours, during which time the stadium was shaken by the enthusiastic audience members who danced and rocked along to each song.