Review: Beyonce, SSE Hydro

Lisa-Marie-Ferla's verdict: five stars

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Lit up a garish shade of pink, like some upturned flying saucer from the planet Venus, Glasgow's flagship arena is ready to host the first night of Beyonce's European tour.

Inside The Hydro is a sweltering bowl of pent-up devotion and light-up plastic hair bows, where 40 minutes after her scheduled start time the only signs we've seen of Beyonce are the adverts for Pepsi and her new fragrance ("available at the merch desk!").

But when you're the sort of global superstar for whom flawless is as much a way of life as a song title, there are few limits to what you can get away with.

The curtain falls, five dancers rise up from the floor in their best impression of smoke and then Queen Bey herself arrives, looking impossibly serene in a jewel-encrusted gown.

Any grumps are dissolved with a single purred "Glasgow" before she launches into "Haunted" from her self-titled surprise pre-Christmas album, exuding class even once the heavy beat kicks in.

Carefully choreographed it may be, but there are enough Beyonces on stage tonight to give even those in the luxury seats a run for their money.

There's a version of "If I Were a Boy" so bass-heavy as to be almost unrecognisable, and a sultry "Drunk in Love" backed by six larger-than-life Beys on the screens behind. There's a funked-up "Get Me Bodied" that gets the arena out of their seats; a saucy "Naughty Girl" performed in a gold leotard and introduced with a powerful speech about womanhood and seduction; and a disco-funk "Blow" which revels - refreshingly so - in female sexuality with its all-woman dancer line-up.

And if the gender politics are too much, there's always the mischievous face the singer pulls while a giant Pac-man animation gobbles cherries behind her.

But it's "***Flawless", introduced with the same Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speech that accompanies it on the album, that's the most jaw-dropping performance of the night.

As the lyrics flash behind her in giant letters, a hotpant-clad Beyonce encourages the women in the audience to mock the burdensome expectations placed on womanhood with her.

Juxtaposed with its "don't think I'm just his little wife" lyrics, the tour's title - The Mrs Carter Show - is a powerful statement.

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