I’m not gonna beat around the bush. If you know me at all you’ll know my best gig ever. If you don’t know me at all you can make an educated guess given my vital statistics: black woman, born in 1995, lover of RnB. My best gig ever took place at the O2 arena when Tik Tok was simply the national anthem of rebellious chicks, when Corona was a drink best served chilled with a wedge of lime and Johnson’s appalling decision making only affected London and not the whole country. Sunday 15th November 2009. My first Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter concert.
To really situate this life changing, life altering gig I must inform you of the truly unbelievable way I got my hands on two (almost) front row tickets to the I Am… World Tour. In 2009 Trident chewing gum was king, (I was a Tropical Twist kinda girl) and like a new age Willy Wonka the powers that be at Trident decided to give away 13,000 tickets to the I Am… World Tour. All you had to do was buy the gum and enter a code into a weekly draw. Long story short, I won the tickets and my life changed forever.
It is difficult to really to explain the impact this gig had on 15 year old me, seeing the woman I’d admired from birth with my favourite person (my big brother) by my side. Game changing. Excuse me for using the work of the queen herself here but you know that moment during ‘Feelin’ Myself’ when she challenges the temporal limits of our mere mortal universe and says ‘I stop the world…. world stop. Carry On.’? And your heart stops beating for a few seconds because it’s all a bit too much. Well that’s how I felt for 2.5 hours. My world stopped and I was well and truly at her mercy.
From the moment the curtain dropped and the mammoth brass band launched into ‘Crazy in Love’ I was sold, the Beyhive had me hook, line and sinker. If you’ve never seen Beyoncé live then I cannot stress to you enough that this woman is an athlete from the crystal clear vocals runs to literal, actual running across the stage in 6 inch heels, it will blow your mind. My memory is letting me down and I can’t put my finger on how many costume changes there were exactly but you better believe Ms Knowles gave us RANGE that night. Sasha Fierce was pushing through in all her rhinestoned glory during tracks like ‘Radio’ and ‘Diva’. And good old southern belle Beyoncé delivered during the more heartfelt moments – ‘Smash Into You’ and ‘Broken Hearted Girl’. Ever the philanthropist Beyoncé even took this moment to give two small time rappers a rare glimpse of life in the spotlight. Jay Z and Kanye West both joined her on stage for performances of ‘Crazy In Love’ and ‘Ego’. I wonder where they are now? I hope they’re well. And lest we forget the moment she performed an emotional rendition of Etta James’ ‘At Last’ to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama. God, I miss 2009.
Having seen the queen live twice since this remarkable day I have to admit nothing can compare to that very first time. Losing your Beyoncé virginity is the exact antithesis of losing your sexual virginity, the first time is always the best. Admittedly performance wise she technically gets better and better but you still find yourself chasing that thrill of seeing her for the first time as a 15 year old. This of course infers a lot more about me than it does her. 15 year old me was riddled with puberty induced anxiety, hormones and insecurities. Seeing a strong black woman up on that stage in a sold out arena owning her body and talent really does something to you as a teenager. She epitomised everything about womanhood that I aspired to. Digital camera in hand I tried to capture all the very best moments for fear of forgetting them not realising this gig would be etched into my memory in more vivid detail than a Fujifilm Finepix camera could deliver. See dodgy camera quality below.