Beyoncé tells fans (and Taylor Swift) to “laugh and dance” at Renaissance film premiere

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Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour is the second major concert film to hit cinemas this year
By Mark Savage
BBC Music Correspondent

Beyoncé told fans they should “dance, sing, laugh and cry” as they watched the London premiere of her Renaissance tour film.

Dressed in a white suit, the star made a brief appearance before the three-hour documentary, and told the audience to “feel free to feel”.

Taylor Swift, whose own concert movie broke box office records earlier this year, was also there.

Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy also attended the event.

Other guests included Destiny’s Child star Michelle Williams, musician will.i,am, Vogue’s former editor Edward Enniful, and actress Vivica A. Fox.

All wore “opulent formal attire” requested in the dress code.

Swift’s appearance came after Beyoncé attended the Hollywood concert premiere for her Eras Tour on 11 October.

She donned a sparkling silver Balmain gown, and posed for photos with fans – unlike her counterpart, who made a quick stop on the red carpet with Blue Ivy before changing outfits to introduce the film.

Taylor Swift has said Beyoncé “taught me and every artist out here to break rules and defy industry norms”
Beyoncé posted photos from the red carpet to her official website
Vivica A Fox adopted the opulent dress code
British model Jourdan Dunn also soaked up the three-hour concert movie
Former Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock was amongst the British pop royalty who attended
Michelle Williams, who sang alongside Beyoncé in Destiny’s Child, also flew into London for the premiere

Shot in 10 different countries, the film captures all the on and off-stage action from what became the highest-grossing tour ever by a black artist, and the eighth-highest-grossing tour of all time.

As well as hits like Crazy In Love, Cuff It and Drunk In Love, fans get to see Beyoncé’s creative battles, the impact of knee surgery, and how her daughter losing a tooth took precedence over anything that happens on stage.

Footage is taken from every date of the tour, often cutting seamlessly between different performances of the same song.

That allows Beyoncé to show off hundreds of costume changes, while capturing fleeting moments of spontaneity (and even the occasional mistake) in the meticulously-choreographed concert.

But the backstage footage is just as compelling.


Renaissance tour in numbers

£458 millionTotal box office takings

148 different looks from 35 fashion houses

56shows in 39 cities

22 metresheight of the video wall

2.7 millionfans attended a show

Source: BBC

Particularly moving is a sequence about her uncle Johnny – a black, gay man who designed Beyoncé’s first ever stage costumes, and whose love of house music inspired the disco grooves of the Renaissance album and tour.

“Wherever he went, it became better,” remembers Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles, in the film.

“He helped me raise my kids and they loved and adored him. He was a lifesaver.”

He died near the start of Beyoncé’s career from an Aids-related illness, but her embrace of gay and ballroom culture on Renaissance can be traced back to him. By the time she tours the album, fans are holding up signs saying, “Uncle Johnny would be proud.”

“I just wish he could see this,” Beyoncé tells her mother in one sequence. “You know he’s looking,” Tina replies.

At the London premiere, Beyoncé dedicated the film to his memory.

“I’m really proud this film is coming out on December 1st, World Aids Day, in honour of Uncle Johnny,” she said, receiving a huge round of applause from the audience – many of whom had worked and performed on the tour.

Here are some more highlights from the film, which was screened at London’s Leicester Square Odeon ahead of its general release.

Getting the best seat in the house

With VIP tickets costing as much as £2,400, most people couldn’t afford to get within touching distance of Queen Bey this summer.

The film changes that, putting you in the centre of the action, where you can focus on the elastic snap of the choreography and the stunning precision of Beyoncé’s vocals.

What’s more, she reveals an unexpected playfulness – reacting to dancers and letting the music guide her movements. Towards the end of the film, Beyoncé admits she broke the habit of “rehearsing ad nauseam” for this tour, and felt “liberated” on stage. It’s a joy to watch.

Added bonus: No-one blocks your view by filming the show on their phone.

Beyoncé’s knee

In the run-up to the tour, Beyoncé needed surgery after a decades-old knee injury (caused by crashing into stage equipment) flared up.

With only weeks to spare, she had to mix rehearsals with rehab in order to build up her fitness for the opening night.

“I was absolutely terrified because she had to rehab so quickly,” her mother Tina says in the film. “She rehearsed on that knee, she came out on tour on that knee, and so I was always scared that she was going to re-injure the knee, but she is always a trooper.”

“Usually I only rehearse in heels, but because of my knee, I haven’t gotten that far yet,” adds Beyoncé, whose post-surgery stitches are clearly visible.

“It’s been hurting like crazy, but the best thing to do is get back on the horse.”

Destiny’s Child reunite

During a tour stop in Houston, Beyoncé reunites with her former band, Destiny’s Child.

That, we’ve seen before. What’s different this time is that the reunion features not only Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams but founder members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, who were controversially fired in 2000.

“It was like a new birth for us, and a lot of healing,” Beyoncé says in a voice-over. But it’s over in a flash.

Come on! We need to know more.

Who extended the olive branch? What did they discuss? And why didn’t Farrah Franklin get the invite?

Blue Ivy’s viral dance break

Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy went from a one-off cameo to being listed as an official dancer in the tour credits

Beyoncé was joined on stage by her eldest daughter, Blue Ivy, during an early Renaissance tour stop in Paris.

Having watched the rehearsals, the 11-year-old knew the choreography by heart and performed a competent – if hesitant – routine to the songs My Power and Black Parade.

Then, as the tour progressed, her confidence grew and grew. By the finale in Kansas, her solo had become a much-anticipated feature of the show; and edits of her evolution started trending on TikTok.

But the film reveals she was never supposed to be a regular performer. Even her debut was the subject of tense mother-daughter negotiations.

“She told me she was ready to perform, and I told her no,” Beyoncé admits. “I did not think it was an appropriate place for an 11-year-old.”

She eventually relents on a once-only basis. When she sees Blue Ivy’s nerves beforehand, she thinks: “Why did I say yes.”

Her regret may grow when Blue sees negative reviews of her debut online. But instead of crumbling, she resolves to improve.

“That’s a Knowles girl, right there,” comments Beyoncé’s father, Matthew.

And by the end of the tour, Jay-Z is standing in the crowd, watching with fatherly pride as his wife and daughter slay in synchronicity.

Even the mistakes are included

“This tour is a machine,” says Beyoncé. But like every machine I’ve ever owned, it goes on the fritz.

During a show in Glendale, Arizona, the sound system fails during Alien Superstar. Cue pandemonium.

“We lost power to audio,” says a visibly stressed engineer. “We have lost comms”.

But rather than edit out the sequence, Beyoncé takes the audience inside the confusion.

Realising the malfunction could kill the show’s momentum, she grabs a costume off the rack and starts to get changed, serving fans a new look when she returns to the stage.

Also included: The moment she created a meme by dropping her glasses in Toronto.

Who Runs The World (This Girl)

Putting together a show of this magnitude is a challenge for anyone, but Beyoncé makes it clear that some people face bigger hurdles.

“I feel like, being a black woman, the way people communicate with me is different,” she says. “Everything is a fight.”

She illustrates her point with footage of the rehearsal process, where technicians tell her the camera lens she wants doesn’t exist, and the camera tracks she’s requested are impossible.

“I was just looking up 30-foot camera tracks, and they do exist,” she replies – not unkindly, but with enough force to make her point clear.

“If I’m honest,” she adds in a voice-over, “it’s exhausting”.

Later, she performs Run The World (Girls) with a celebratory whoop of joy. You can see her point.

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