On Renaissance Tour, Beyoncé ushers the bliss of ballroom into the cosmos

The singer’s first stop in Atlanta reveled in the essence of joy and gratitude
August 11, 2023 - Atlanta, Georgia - Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Atlanta showed why the nickname Hotlanta is simply befitting. The capacity crowd came in with fervor, fashion and passion to welcome Beyoncé at a fever pitch for the first of three nights here of her widely-lauded RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR. Shows continue on Saturday and Monday.

Beyoncé adds even more brightness to Atlanta in a design by Gaurav Gupta, styled by Shiona Turini. Makeup by Rokael Lizama. Hair by Neal Farinah and jewelry by Tiffany & Co. Shoes by Christian Louboutin.

Photographer: Mason Poole

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RIGHTS GRANTED FOR USE OF THIS PHOTO IN CONJUNCTION WITH COVERAGE OF THE RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR. NO OTHER USE OF THIS PHOTO IS APPROVED.

Credit: Mason Poole

Credit: Mason Poole

August 11, 2023 - Atlanta, Georgia - Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta showed why the nickname Hotlanta is simply befitting. The capacity crowd came in with fervor, fashion and passion to welcome Beyoncé at a fever pitch for the first of three nights here of her widely-lauded RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR. Shows continue on Saturday and Monday. Beyoncé adds even more brightness to Atlanta in a design by Gaurav Gupta, styled by Shiona Turini. Makeup by Rokael Lizama. Hair by Neal Farinah and jewelry by Tiffany & Co. Shoes by Christian Louboutin. Photographer: Mason Poole --- RIGHTS GRANTED FOR USE OF THIS PHOTO IN CONJUNCTION WITH COVERAGE OF THE RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR. NO OTHER USE OF THIS PHOTO IS APPROVED.

When Beyoncé, at 40, made her foray into dance music last year with the release of “Renaissance,” she made the often overlooked history of Black women shaping dance music feel vast. Her seventh solo studio album sampled the bonafide disco queen Donna Summer and house music legend Robin S. It embodied the emancipatory ethos of Diana Ross’ 1980 classic “I’m Coming Out.” And the spirit of the genre’s unsung heroes. Like Martha Wash. Like Gloria Gaynor. Like CeCe Peniston. Like Crystal Waters.

In turn, the depths of the album’s escapade into dance music gloriously reflects the sounds ruling the nightlife and ballroom scene that Black and Latinx queer communities pioneered. Ballroom culture emerged as a space for celebrating community and showcasing the talents of queer Black and brown youth. “Renaissance” rejoices in that legacy. In fact, House of Balenciaga, a pillar in Atlanta’s ballroom scene, and the Atlanta City Council honored the superstar by declaring August 11 as Beyoncé Day in Georgia for uplifting ballroom culture with her album and world tour.

On the first night of the Beyoncé's 3-day takeover at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, she wove elements of sci-fi, house music, Black protest, ballroom and disco that were all rooted in celebrating and sustaining sheer joy. The doyenne of pop music gave Atlanta fans a triumphant two-and-a-half hour performance that was vocally and visually grandiose, spiritually liberating and often structurally perplexing. Beyoncé's Atlanta ball was a communal and sacred source of bliss.

The singer opened her show with a roughly 30-minute set of ballads. Beyoncé, dressed in a regal lime Gaurav Gupta gown, belted a collection of riffs and runs that felt too crisp to not be completely enamored by her limitless vocal talent. She performed staples in her discography like “Dangerously in Love” and “Flaws and All,” a track that sounded much more convincing when heard live because of Beyoncé's stellar vocal arrangements. Her vocal performance reached a peak on 2011′s “1+1.” Sitting atop a piano, she wafted through the difficult notes on the love ballad with ease before transitioning to a cover of Rose Royce’s classic single “I’m Going Down.” With “I Care,” she nodded to the late Tina Turner with a rendition of “River Deep-Mountain High.”

At best, the set revealed the stunning vocal depths of a singer who’s already lauded as one of the greatest vocalists of all time. But it was the least innovative for a tour centered on an album that’s heralded for its futuristic sound and style. Opening with a string of ballads was reminiscent of a Beyoncé from the early aughts. The decision, however, felt necessary for longtime fans who experienced a 6-year drought of seeing their queen perform on tour.

August 11, 2023 - Atlanta, Georgia - Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Atlanta showed why the nickname Hotlanta is simply befitting. The capacity crowd came in with fervor, fashion and passion to welcome Beyoncé at a fever pitch for the first of three nights here of her widely-lauded RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR. Shows continue on Saturday and Monday.

Beyoncé adds even more brightness to Atlanta in a design by Gaurav Gupta, styled by Shiona Turini. Makeup by Rokael Lizama. Hair by Neal Farinah and jewelry by Tiffany & Co. Shoes by Christian Louboutin.

Photographer: Julian Dakdouk

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RIGHTS GRANTED FOR USE OF THIS PHOTO IN CONJUNCTION WITH COVERAGE OF THE RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR. NO OTHER USE OF THIS PHOTO IS APPROVED.

Credit: Julian Dakdouk

icon to expand image

Credit: Julian Dakdouk

Beyoncé followed the opening with roughly two hours of inviting fans into her “Renaissance” that could also pose as a visual representation of the history and future of Black music. Rocking at least four outfit changes and presenting a stage design that was just as intense and glamorous, the Grammy-winning artist performed most of the album in order. For “Cozy” and “Alien Superstar,” she fully leans into her persona as the concert’s house mother as ballroom competition chants played in the background. She used props like a metallic body armor and robotic arms to further cement her status as the supreme alien superstar. She closed that set with a break featuring the Chicago house hit “It’s Time for the Percolator.”

With songs like the viral funk groove “Cuff It” and “Energy,” for which Beyoncé declared Atlanta as the winner for the song’s highly competitive mute challenge (in which tour fans are tasked with being completely silent after she sings “Look around everybody on mute”), featured the star donning an all-pink ensemble that looked like she had 1980′s disco stars on her mood board. While voguing and performing the remix to “Break My Soul, she honored the legacy of Black women artists that came before her: “Missy, Diana, Grace Jones/Aretha, Anita, Grace Jones.”

Beyoncé, with the help of her daughter Blue, channeled the spirit of Black power and resistance with songs like “My Power,” “Formation,” “Run the World” and “Black Parade.” She embraced her sexier side with “Savage Remix,” and “Partition.” Then, she swiftly transformed into church regalia and made the stage her sanctuary with “Higher” and “Church Girl.” She inserted older songs like her breakthrough 2003 smash “Crazy in Love,” and “Rather Die Young,” a deep cut from her 2011 album “4.”

But the center of Beyoncé's expansive disco wonderland is the community it uplifts. A shining moment of the concert arrived when fans, dressed in every “Renaissance” theme from sheer and sequins suits to cowboy hats and thigh-high boots, finished each ascending scale on the vocally monstrous ballad “Love on Top” without Beyoncé's help. Before the show even started, Atlanta fans were voguing in the crowd and using the stadium’s aisles as their personal runway for a ballroom competition. And later in the show, they’d get to see that practice manifested on stage as the singer’s dancers hosted their own ball.

August 11, 2023 - Atlanta, Georgia - Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Atlanta showed why the nickname Hotlanta is simply befitting. The capacity crowd came in with fervor, fashion and passion to welcome Beyoncé at a fever pitch for the first of three nights here of her widely-lauded RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR. Shows continue on Saturday and Monday.

Beyoncé adds even more brightness to Atlanta in a design by Gaurav Gupta, styled by Shiona Turini. Makeup by Rokael Lizama. Hair by Neal Farinah and jewelry by Tiffany & Co. Shoes by Christian Louboutin.

Photographer: Mason Poole

---
RIGHTS GRANTED FOR USE OF THIS PHOTO IN CONJUNCTION WITH COVERAGE OF THE RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR. NO OTHER USE OF THIS PHOTO IS APPROVED.

Credit: Mason Poole

icon to expand image

Credit: Mason Poole

The tour’s visuals were equally stunning. From incorporating an intergalactic galaxy and a disco ball horse to displaying church scenes and intimate poses of Beyoncé on the brink of a rebirth, the visual representation of “Renaissance” was boundless. While it’s not clear if the footage was the album visuals that fans have long waited for, they were fulfilling enough to satisfy the BeyHive’s appetite for now. Beyoncé's first night in Atlanta celebrated love, encouraged joy, captured freedom and delighted in the mastery of a world-class performer.

“I hope you feel a release,” Beyoncé told the crowd at the end of the show. “I hope you feel joy in your heart, and I hope you take that joy and spread it wherever you go.”

Beyoncé’s stop in Atlanta continues with concerts on Saturday and Monday night. Doors open at 6 p.m. The shows start at 8 p.m.

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