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Beyoncé makes ambitious return to stage

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.

Beyoncé, like any other working mom, is balancing her work life with her home life.

Though her daughter, Blue Ivy, is not quite 5 months old, Beyoncé felt a strong desire to return to her career in a big way this weekend with four sold-out shows to open the new $2.4-billion Revel Resort in Atlantic City.

"I haven't been on the stage for a whole year," she said, adding that she had to lose 60 pounds before she could get back into freakum-dress shape. "Y'all don't know how hard I had to work. They had me running on that treadmill, eating lettuce."

"Tonight," Beyoncé told a capacity crowd that included first lady Michelle Obama and first daughters Sasha and Malia, "I'm getting chocolate-wasted." She certainly deserves the celebration. Her Revel concert Saturday night is her most ambitious live show yet, stretching more than two hours, with 12 dancers and an 11-piece backing band.

There were so many striking visual images on stage and on screen, the show felt like a Pinterest board come to life -- packed with bold colors and graphics, elegant modern dance positions and video clips. Beyoncé made sure the music was just as hard-hitting as the visuals. She zoomed through jazz ("Love on Top"), hip-hop ("Diva") and Middle-Eastern-meets-disco rhythms ("Naughty Girl" spliced with Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby") with remarkable energy.

Then came the ballads. She did six in a row before offering up "Irreplaceable" as a massive sing-along, sapping the show's momentum, though she effortlessly kick-started it with an extended version of "Countdown." The way she paid tribute to the late Whitney Houston with a stunning a cappella version of "I Will Always Love You" before moving into "Halo" showed that her vocal workouts must be as strenuous as her gym workouts.

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