ATLANTIC CITY -- Beyonce, 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, Beyonce 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," Beyonce, in her midriff-baring red dress, told a capacity crowd Saturday 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 last night is her most ambitious live show yet, stretching more than two hours with 12 dancers and an 11-piece backing band.
Clearly, Beyonce has taken an increased interest in how her show looks, from a stage set of massive cubes similar to the ones that husband Jay-Z and pal Kanye West used on their “Watch the Throne” tour last year, to using a complicated system of screens to make it appear that she and her dancers were stepping in and out of black-and-white images that looked influenced by the opening credits of James Bond films.
There were so many striking visual images both 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.
Beyonce made sure the music was just as hard-hitting as the visuals. From the flashy opener “End of Time,” Beyonce and her dancers were a seemingly nonstop whirl of well-choreographed routines and sassy gestures for more than half an hour.
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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 of them in a row before offering up “Irreplaceable” as a massive sing-along. As interesting as she made “If I Were a Boy” by tacking on the Goo Goo Dolls' “Iris” and Lauryn Hill's “Ex-Factor” and as passionately as she tackled “1+1” atop a grand piano, stringing that many ballads together sapped a lot of energy from the show.
It is to Beyonce's credit that she so effortlessly kick-started the show with an extended version of “Countdown” that dazzled both visually and sonically. 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 workouts in the gym.
It's not exactly clear what Beyonce's next move will be, having developed this massive show with no new album to promote and no other tour dates announced. However, it seems like part of the reason for the shows -- which continue Sunday and Monday night -- was to test herself, as a new mother and an artist. She passed with flying colors.
SETLIST: End of Time / Love on Top / Get Me Bodied / Baby Boy / Crazy in Love / Diva / Naughty Girl / Party / Dance for You / Freakum Dress / I Still Care / Schooling Life / 1+1 / I Miss You / Resentment / If I Were a Boy / Irreplaceable / Countdown / Jumpin' Jumpin' / Who Run the World (Girls) // ENCORE: I Will Always Love You / Halo / Single Ladies
CELEBRITIES SPOTTED: Michelle Obama and daughters, Sasha and Malia, Gayle King, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie