Beyoncé Brought Unapologetic Joy and Superhuman Precision to Toronto

Rogers Centre, June 8

Photo: Kevin Mazur

BY Vernon AyikuPublished Jul 9, 2023

​Beyoncé stans got in formation at Toronto's Rogers Centre for the North American arrival of the pop megawatt's Renaissance World Tour, a night many of them will surely cherish forever. 

Spoiler alert — the show was incredible. But what did you expect? This is Beyoncé we're talking about, and you likely don't need a review to tell you that Saturday night's performance was a well-oiled machine of epic proportions. In fact, this review would be better used for telling you who this show is for, and exactly why the space that Beyoncé and her enormous team create is important.

With moments from her European leg going viral all spring, the hive took over the SkyDome wearing their best black and silver outfits — like all good fandoms they already knew the setlist, the length of the show, and in some cases, the stage choreography.

If that environment sounds wild to you, it's likely best that you stayed home: this was a show for people willing to unapologetically lean into the Beyoncé hysteria. That meant dressing up, getting loose and acting a little crazy. Not knowing all the words was fine; while some of the best concerts at Beyoncé's level are greatest hits sing-a-longs, the Renaissance World Tour was more a marathon dance party. After opening the show with four ballads, the two-and-a-half-hour set was a run of the album from front to back with house remixes of some of Beyonce's other hits sprinkled in between.

Beyoncé stans come from all creeds, but this was first and foremost a show for Black Queer people. At its core, RENAISSANCE celebrates dance music and its Black Queer roots —  as noted in its liner notes, the album is dedicated to "the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long," referring to the Queer and trans pioneers who popularized house music in the early '80s. Credited throughout the album are producers like Honey Dijon, '90s drag legend Moi Renee, queer alt R&B artist Syd and more, with the influence of artists like Grace Jones (who lends her iconic voice to "Move") and Donna Summer presence as well. 

With all of this in mind, Beyoncé didn't slow down to sing famous ballads like "If I Were a Boy," "Irreplaceable" or "Halo," with the song choices outside of the RENAISSANCE tracklist leaning upbeat, empowering and overly positive. Simply put, the Renaissance World Tour was a very elaborate and uplifting disco party complete with trippy visuals, outfit changes and multiple dance breaks. 

I said at the top of this review that I would explain why the space this show creates is important, but if you don't already understand why what Beyoncé is doing should be celebrated, this show just isn't for you. The Renaissance World Tour celebrated love, perseverance, freedom and Blackness. It was political by its very existence, a statement of rebellion from one of the most famous people in the world. But most of all, it was a safe place to dress up, lose your shit, sing, dance and get out of your mind for a few hours.

While you might find a more instantly iconic Beyoncé performance watching Homecoming, the Renaissance World Tour felt more like an experience that cannot be captured on film. Deeply personal and hyper-focused on continuing the mission statement of the album, it was an electric and living thing — and because this is Beyoncé we're talking about, it also happened to be one of the tightest and most well-produced shows you might ever see. 

Latest Coverage