It was one year ago that heavily pregnant superstar Beyonce cancelled a planned show at the music festival Coachella on the orders of her doctor, with Lady Gaga stepping in the the last moment.
The 36-year-old superstar – and now mother of Rumi and Sir Carter – promised her fans she would make it up to them and this weekend she delivered on that promise.
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Opening a stunning show with Crazy in Love, accompanied by a New Orleans-style brass marching band, it’s fair to say Beyonce brought the house down.
The performance, in front of around 125,000 festival ticketholders and streamed online to an audience of millions, was breathtaking.
It also spawned its own hashtag: #Beychella.
The Houston, Texas-born singer-songwriter, full name Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, is the first female black artist to headline the annual festival.
With a setlist that included songs from her album Lemonade, a performance of Deja Vu with husband Jay-Z and an appearance on stage by her sister, singer Solange Knowles, the show was hard to top.
But with the cake well and truly baked, Beyonce iced it with a stunning twist for long-time fans.
She was joined on stage by her former Destiny’s Child co-collaborators Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for a reunion that lit social media aflame.
Reunited, they sang a handful of their most loved songs including Lose My Breath, Soldier and Say My Name.
The trio most recently reunited on stage singing at the Super Bowl half-time show in February.
Beyonce also acknowledged that the show was, in calendar terms, a year later than originally planned.
“I was supposed to perform at Coachella before but I ended up getting pregnant,” she said on stage.
“So I had time to dream and dream and dream with two beautiful souls in my belly, and I dreamed up this performance.”
Beyonce’s show drew almost universal praise, from fans online, from critics and from other celebrities.
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) April 15, 2018
“Let’s just cut to the chase,” declared The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica. “There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon.
“It was rich with history, potently political and visually grand. By turns uproarious, rowdy, and lush. A gobsmacking marvel of choreography and musical direction,” he said.
Beyonce’s performance also “obliterated the ideology of the relaxed festival, the idea that musicians exist to perform in service of a greater vibe,” Caramanica said. “Beyonce was having none of it.”
Variety’s Chris Willman compared her to some of the legends of live performance.
“Could Michael Jackson, who was best in micro-moments, not at long-form conceptual shows, have pulled off something like this?” he asked.
“Does mentioning her in the same breath of a Gene Kelly do justice to her dancing and conceptual abilities, but not her voice, which would be superstar-making enough?”
Even prominent US academic Roxane Gay weighed into the buzz, heaping praise on the performance and making note of Beyonce’s “regal entrance, fringe boots, voice (on point, for all two hours of her concert) [and] renaming that dusty lil festival Beychella.”
Sometimes unfathomable fame and acclaim is earned. Don’t ever speak ill of Beyoncé around me in your life.
— roxane gay (@rgay) April 15, 2018
Coachella is held annually over two weekends in the desert city of Indio, California.
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