Despite glitzy gimmicks, Beyonce connects with fans

Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:59am EDT
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By Darryl Morden

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Beyonce recently topped Forbes' list of the richest stars under 30, but she clearly is not hoarding the money: A ton of it must have been spent on her latest spectacle of a tour.

Despite the title of her latest album, "I Am ... Sasha Fierce," nothing was fierce at all. Warm and fuzzy? Sure. Over the top? You could've bet on that because it's the nature of pop tours these days.

But what made her truly connect with fans wasn't the gimmicks -- confetti raining down during her horn-blasted, opening retro-soul strut of "Crazy in Love," or high-tech movable stage parts and loads of costume changes: It was the music and the way it was delivered that counted the most as she interacted with her band and fans. Many so-called divas and such could learn something here. Are you listening, Madonna?

The two-hour-plus show offered Beyonce's far-ranging styles, from pop and R&B to hip-hop, reggaeton, electronic and dance.

She also dipped into songs by others -- though they were more tease than covers, linked to her own songs. She cooed through a bit of Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby," Sarah McLachlan's winsome "Angel" and took a quick tear through part of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know."

She proved adept at each, and it's a shame she didn't just go for the complete numbers.

But "Ave Maria," sung while dancers assembled a wedding dress on her, didn't work at all.

When the crowd cheered, screamed and roared early on in the show, she stopped to beam with a genuine smile. This was a far cry from the Beyonce of some years whose ego appeared to walk ahead of her. But she's grown up -- musically and as a performer.   Continued...

<p>Beyonce performs during the 2008 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 23, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>