Fan Girl: Beyonce – The Mrs Carter World Tour – Part 2

I’d talked myself out of getting tickets for the second leg of Beyoncé’s Mrs Carter World Tour, having already splashed the cash on her first visit to Birmingham last year. Then I heard that one of Hubby’s work colleagues who had been to the 2013 leg of the tour was going again. Well if she was…,I reasoned. Then I heard that Queen Bey had added a whole host of songs from her new, self-titled, album to the set list. And then there was the eye scenario and my resolution to ‘see all the things’ Yep, it didn’t take me long to justify picking up some last-minute side of stage tickets for last nights performance at the LG Arena in Birmingham and boy am I glad I did!

When I say side of stage, we still had a pretty good view. Beyoncé still looked life-size and, although the screen behind her occasionally pixellated due to our viewing angle, we could always take a quick squizz at the side of stage screen to see what we were missing. Personally I’d rather have side of stage and be able to see the artist, than have front of stage at the back and watch a tiny dot dancing around the stage. But that’s just me…

So was it worth going again? Oh yes! Oh yes! Oh, be still my beating heart, yes! Sure, she rolled out some of the favourites from the first leg of the tour, including Get Me Bodied, Baby Boy, Diva, Naughty Girl, Love on Top, Crazy in Love (no Beyoncé gig would be complete without this surely?!), Single Ladies and Halo. She also reverted back to opening with Run the World (Girls) as per the first leg of the tour (a change in the set list since her first Glasgow show), showing that Beyoncé is still tweaking the show to give her fans the ultimate #flawless show. And that’s just it, alongside those old favourites were a host of new tracks which Beyoncé is carefully working into, what was already, an impressive set. It could have been a car crash, it wasn’t.  In fact, the aptly named #Flawless was possibly one of my favourite performances of the evening – a kick ass track, with a wicked bass line, a feisty dance routine and Bey telling the crowd in her Southern drawl to sing ‘with attitude’. New track Drunk in Love received a massive cheer as Beyoncé straddled a chair and sang about those bath tub antics! Oh er!

Indeed, as well as a sprinkling of her new material, she also added a huge dash of spice to the  mix. Now Bey has always been foxy, don’t get me wrong. But there does seem to be a certain ‘She’s flirty, turned 30, ain’t that the age a girl gets really dirty‘ to our Ms Carter these days. As if her figure (a seductive petite hourglass), flawless skin and mix of grace and swagger weren’t enough, our ‘Yonce has cranked up the sex appeal to 11! It’s true that the songs on her new album lend themselves to this ‘naughty girl’ Beyoncé. But my god – pole dancing and THAT dance on the couch thing for Partition?! Plus her writhing atop the piano for 1+1. All I can say is Jay Z – you are one lucky man!

Similarly having an entire arena screaming ‘I want you to turn that cherry out‘ must be kind of surreal, but that’s what happened as the crowd took to singing along to raunchy new pop tune, Blow. Beyoncé’s shocked face at the finale of the song as a Pacman-style character gobbled up the final cherry ensured the whole affair was cheeky rather than seedy. 

It wasn’t all sauce though. There were also some strong ballads, including a fabulous acapella version of I Will Always Love You, which perfectly showcased her stunning voice.  She belted out Heaven with such passion that I had to stifle a tear.

But back to the cheekiness! There was the cute self-satisfied beam that lit up ‘Yonce’s face every time the crowd sang along to one of her new tracks. Then there was her standing alongside Les Twins trying to play the pop diva, lapping up the screams from the crowd. But Bey couldn’t keep up the persona for long, breaking into a smirk, followed by a smile and then full-blown giggles. Just another reason why we love her so!

Speaking of Les Twins, they were just astounding as ever with their ‘how do they do that?’ dance routines, infectious smiles and constant cheekiness. Every time I watch them I wonder a.) if they actually have bones and b.) if they ever actually just walk anywhere, or if life for them is just one constant dance.

Crowd participation was encouraged with Beyoncé getting us to belt out both Irreplaceable and XO. She even personally serenaded one lucky birthday boy with ‘Happy Birthday to you’. That’s a B’day he’s unlikely to forget.

Beyoncé always gives 150% – strong vocals, high-energy dance routines, combined with strong production levels, superb dancers, great visuals, stunning outfits, a good use of props and lighting, pyrotechnics, glitter cannons – you name it – it’s there! Was it worth going again? Yep, even though Beyonce performed some of the same material as last time she’d added a different twist to them. She’d redesigned the stage slightly. She’d added the new material, new costumes… And to be fair, who could ever get bored of watching Beyonce? It’s like watching an angel perform… albeit a fallen angel sometimes. 

Fabulous rating: 5/5

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Fangirl: Happy 40th Birthday Robbie!

My love/adoration/obsession with Robbie Williams is certainly no secret to regular readers of this here blog. I’ve certainly written about the cheeky chappy a fair few times.

So in celebration of the singer’s 40th birthday I thought I’d compile a mini anthology of my musings on the music maestro from Stoke, enjoy!

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I'm listening to…

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If you want to find out what I thought of his latest album, Swings Both Ways, click here.

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Robbie

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If you’d like to hear my opinion on Robbie Unauthorised by Sean Smith, follow this link.

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Robbie & beer. Oh yes!

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Fancy finding out what I thought about Robbie in concert at Wembley last year? You can read my review here.

Want to see an amusing (now quite old) video of Robbie that I stumbled across on YouTube, visit here.

Want to see what happened when my sister-in-law and I debated Robbie Vs Gary on New Years Eve? Take a look here.

Happy birthday Mr Williams. Hope it’s a good one! x

 

Fangirl: Album Review of Beyonce by Beyonce

We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are

so says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on track Flawless, and if the majority of the rest of Beyonce’s new album is anything to go by, it’s something that Queen Bey is keen to address. Oh yes, this album comes with a huge side-serving of raunch and innuendo, and fully deserves it’s ‘explicit’ tag.

There’s our ‘Yonce naked in kitchen on Jealous, she’s hoping someone will ‘keep me humming, keep me moaning’ (and that’s just the half of it) in the addictively catchy Blow (which tune-wise is quite early Michael Jackson-ish), she wants to ‘sit my ass on ya’ in Rocket, then there’s Drunk in Love (what is she doing with that surfboard again? And Jay-Z needs to be careful he doesn’t have an unfortunate chaffing incident with his idle approach to satisfying his good lady wife).

It’s quite a departure from her previous works and you can’t help but feel that Hubby, Jay-Z, has had some influence in this album which feels raw, urban and downright naughty. There’s some heavy bass lines, especially in Haunted and Partition (love this track), as well as some serious mash-ups – with tunes changing from ballad, to rap to dance in a matter of moments. But Beyonce’s stonking vocals are never compromised. She still belts out every lyric with passion, pain, joy or pure filth.

There are some tracks that offer a little less raunch. Pretty Hurts is a beautiful, yet haunting, ditty which mocks how we strive for a perfection which simply doesn’t exist. The lyric ‘it’s the soul that needs the surgery’ is genius. XO is a perfect pop tune, that sounds like the soundtrack to summer. Superpower, Heaven and Blue also offer a respite from the filth. Blue is a beautiful ditty along the lines of Robbie Williams’ Go Gentle and, of course, features the gurgles of Mr & Mrs Carter-Knowles’ little one.

This album won’t be to everyone’s tastes. If you were one of the people who tutted disapproving when ‘Bow Down Bitches‘ originally aired, then you might not like this. What do I think of it? It’s raunchier than I expected and not something you’d perhaps want to listen to in front of the in-laws, but I do really like it. I love Jay-Z anyway, so his influence can only be a positive thing in my eyes. And, above all it’s a good, fun album. Not good, clean fun, obviously – but hey! Men have sung about getting women into bed for eons, especially in R&B songs (think R Kelly’s I Wanna Freak You) why should the boys have all the fun? A bit of filth never hurt anyone, right?

Fabulous Rating: 5/5

P.S I’ve not watched the videos yet – I’ll do a separate review of those once I have 🙂

 

Fangirl: Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail

Oh my goodness! Seriously, how good is this album? So good, that Hubby is getting utterly bored of me playing it on repeat most weekend mornings whilst I get ready. Unfortunately Hubby isn’t the biggest Jay Z fan, or rap fan at all for that matter – sorry Hubby!

Holy Grail featuring Justin Timberlake is just a delectable treat for the ears. Powerful lyrcis, a melody that you can’t help but sing along to, Jay Z’s distinctive ‘uh uh’ going on in the background – it’s got it all – and a sample of Nirvana to boot! Seriously I could play this song on constant repeat alone.

My second favourite track has to be Oceans. Just so well put together. I listen to it and I’m transported onto a luxury yacht somewhere off the coast of Ibiza. Just blissful.

The superb bass line on Picasso sounds like it should be introducing the Grand Prix. Pure glamour and power mixed together.

Tom Ford is a fab tune, which has been slightly ruined for me because I work with a guy called Tom Forbes and now I can only hear that as the lyrics now. My colleague, is a lovely old Scottish man, who isn’t in the least bit gangsta, so it kind of ruins this song for me. Ah well!

F*ckmeyouknowIgotit is pure arrogance. Listen to this and sing along to the chorus (changing the lyrics to ‘flip me’ if you’re not a fan of ‘f bombs’) if you need an instant confidence boost.

Oh, I just listened to Oceans again. Bliss to the ears!

Somewhereinamerica (Jay Z really isn’t a fan of spaces on this album is he?) sounds like it’s straight off the Great Gatsby soundtrack – it’s fun, with an amazing backing track and ironic lyrics. How could you fail to love a song which features the lyrics ‘Twerk, Miley, Miley, Miley, Twerk’?

Jay gets wifey, Bey, on the album for Part II (On the Run) which sounds distinctly 80s to me and features some dubious lyrics about running from the Police. But is still enjoyable if you don’t take it too seriously. Unfortunately I have visions of young and impressionable girls from the local dodgy estates listening to this and vowing to stay with their good for nothing boyfriend because ‘Bey stands by Jay Z’. Thing is, I don’t think Jay Z is really an ‘Outlaw’ with an ‘Outlaw chick’ as he raps on this track. Still, it must be a struggle for gangsta rappers who have now made it to keep in touch with their original fans and still sound authentic and as if they know what’s going on down in da hood. Unlike me, who with sentences like that one will never sound like an authentic ‘Outlaw chick’.

Thankfully, BBC lifts things again. This fun, carnival inspired ditty has a feel of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines to it – although with fewer misogynistic lyrics. This should get your toes tapping.

Blue Ivy gets more than a few mentions, as does Beyonce. I’m never sure how I feel about this. But hey, I guess I talk about my Hubby at the office, so… La Familla just stops short of being saccharine sweet by having a decent rap over what I can only assume is a sample of Blue Ivy and Bey.

The closing track Nickels and Dimes is just sumptuous. It feels a bit like you should be wrapped in the finest velvet, drinking expensive champagne and eating exquisite chocolate truffles whilst you listen to it.

Even the tracks that I’ve not mentioned are excellent. There’s not really a duff track on the album. Nothing I’ve skipped, despite multiple listens. Granted, anyone who doesn’t like anything urban, rap, or lots of gratuitous swearing is unlikely to enjoy this. But for the rest of us. Indulge in your ears in this super slick offering from the premier rapper of our time.

What albums are you loving at the moment?

Fangirl: Girls

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It’s the TV show that all the women’s mags, radio stations and people who can afford Sky Atlantic are talking about – Girls.

Touted as the new Sex and the City, Girls charts the mis-haps of four feisty females in New York as they are (in the words of the cover) ‘living the dream, one mistake at a time’.

As a massive Sex and the City fan I was intrigued, although also slightly apprehensive. Would I feel as though I was cheating on Carrie et al? What if is was a duff imitation? What if the only similarity was that it’s about four women in New York, one of which happens to be a writer.

I slipped the DVD in and pressed play. Firstly, Girls, is about just that. Think ‘The Carrie Diaries’ more so than Sex and the City. Whereas Carrie and her pals are pretty much established when we meet them, Hannah and co. are still finding their feet. There are relationships, sex, comedy moments, cringey moments – lots of cringey moments. Yes, it’s a bit like Sex and the City… but it’s much, much grittier.

With a witty script, a great soundtrack and super short episodes, it’s the sort of box set where you find yourself watching at least three in one sitting. And, although I liked it from the start, it wasn’t until I got a little deeper into the series that it completely grabbed me. I don’t know if it’s because I moved down to London with wide-eyed dreams after I graduated, but there were certain points which really resonated with me. I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t seen the series yet, but, for example, when Hannah returns to her hometown to stay with her parent’s for the weekend I could totally relate to that little voice in your head that says: you don’t really fit in around here anymore, but life would be so much easier (and cheaper) if you did.

For me, that’s just one of the ‘OMG yes’ moments. There are loads more scattered throughout the series. And that’s what I loved about it. It’s fresh, it’s gritty, it’s got the mistakes that if you’re of a certain age you’ve probably already made (if you’re younger, beware, you probably still have to work through them). These girls work to pay their rent, not to fund their shoe habit and that is so refreshing. In between the comedy there are some cute nuggets of wisdom. I love the notion of ‘do it for the story’, something I should perhaps live by occasionally. as I do have a tendency to wear my Miss Sensible hat a little to often these days.

Fancy watching girls? The series one box set is available here.

Fan Girl: Plan B

The last few weeks have been, er, interesting at best. But more like downright stressful. I don’t want to go into detail, as it’s boring work-related stuff, things are starting to look brighter. But, as always, the power of music has helped me to stay smiling. I’ve really enjoyed listening to Plan B’s album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, especially this song.

Now, I know it’s a bit extreme. In no way have I been in hell over the past few weeks. I think it’s just the way he sings ‘I put my brave face on’ that has really resonated with me.

If you’re feeling stressed at the moment I prescribe a listen…and a double chocolate chip cookie. Peace out!