Beyoncé at Xcel Energy Center, 7/18/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Robin Harper/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images
The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Thursday, July 18, 2013

There are moments when Beyoncé appears to be made out of money. It's a combination of her perfectly undulating hips and a note hit regally in her personal key signature -- and then it's often topped with a smile. Her pure smiles are akin to 20 newborn puppies, a dozen velvet red cupcakes, and 72 and sunny. When these gilded moments occur during a performance -- we all remember 14 straight minutes of them during her Super Bowl Halftime show -- it's priceless, like the Magna Carta or the Holy Grail.

The ex-Destiny's Child frontwoman can grasp her power to do this, of course. And during her St. Paul stop at Xcel Energy Center, it would be a night of waiting for these sparkling moments. Over the course of two hours, she rarely made us wait too long.

"Run the World (Girls)" was a literal high kick into the evening. With strobes, pyro, an all-female band, and her dancers in elaborate wire-frame dresses as visual accompaniment, Bey surged into the heavily choreographed show with excess energy. It was one of several songs early in the set dominated by rhythm, which amplified the importance of the drumline-style dancing. Melody would take its turn later on.

"I just want to give you all I have," she told us during "Flaws and All," and that's when she slipped into one of those aforementioned moments. It's a small percentage of the population who can be so thoroughly expressive with their eyes -- casting them downward for sympathy and then letting them flit from side to side in comedic fashion -- but she made sure that she didn't overuse them.

And, if there's anything to be frustrated about in a full-length Bey show it's that she did give us everything, in her way of course. It made for a lot of costume changes and broken momentum. Video montages and extended dance pieces hogged what felt like a quarter of the show. The audience was grateful every time she returned, but it always took a bit to get back into the concert after a lengthy clip on the big screen that played out like a perfume commercial. Of course some breaks in the action are always necessary for stadium shows, but everyone paid to see as much of Mrs. Carter in the flesh as possible.

Photo by Robin Harper/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images
The brilliance of Beyoncé when it comes to choosing her influences was played up effectively throughout the night, from the stark spotlighting recalling Michael Jackson during "If I Were a Boy" to the incorporation of Donna Summer's sensual powerhouse "Love to Love You Baby" into the intro for "Naughty Girl." The latter brought a line of fire out of the stage floor and a cabaret feel to the proceedings. Then, the glimmering "Party" turned the vibe to Vegas-style excess, including giant fans of feathers and slot machines spinning on the big screens. Surely she'll have a residency in Sin City when we're casino-obsessed retirees, so why not subliminally prepare us?

Neither "Freakum Dress" nor "I Care" need to be a part of Beyoncé's act in the long term. Both proved to be high-production numbers in the set -- first with ornate, flowing dresses and then a black-leather vibe -- but the songs felt tacked on and having them back-to-back was the only time that the set noticeably sagged, and right at the midpoint of the show.

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