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Mrs. Carter dazzles with an all around entertaining evening, even with imperfect pacing

United Center
Chicago, IL
July 17, 2013

Story By Andy Argyrakis, Publicity Photos

With three years between road trips, Beyonce was welcomed back with outstretched arms on the Chicago stop of the "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" (affectionately referencing her hubby Jay-Z's real life last name). While the super couple's certainly been making mounds of headlines on the birth of their baby Blue Ivy, her mother had no trouble getting back to business at a sold out United Center, singing beautifully and dancing exuberantly throughout two hours of club bangers, soulful ballads and plenty of outfit changes.

Like her appearance at the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show previewed, the set was split between all four of her solo albums (and a short but sweet shout out to Destiny's Child), though the biggest ratio came from 2011's simply titled "4." Her pride in that most recent rhythmically-charged project was first displayed in the empowering opener "Run The World (Girls)," backed by an all-girl band that exuded just as much style and confidence as the 31-year-old headliner.

In fact, the front part of the show weighed almost too heavily on newer material, which wasn't as immediately connective or as culturally defining as what was to come, but nonetheless found Beyonce delivering with dynamism. The 2008 power ballad "If I Were A Boy" benefited from some unexpected sampling of The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," 2011's "Party" had no problem bringing the summer heat inside and fellow fresher cut "1+1" was absolutely stunning (sung seductively on top of a piano), even if the night didn't really hit an unstoppable stride until a "Bey stage" segment at the back of the arena.

After flying briskly over the floor assisted by some cables suspended from the ceiling, the audience surged towards to the superstar as she summoned them "to the left, to the left" with the acoustically framed sing-a-long "Irreplaceable." The celebratory vibe continued with "Love On Top" and truly hit deafening proportions with a flashback to her Destiny's Child days via "Survivor," after which she flew back to the main stage for the double knockout of "Crazy In Love" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," complete with plenty of high heel-defying chorography.

Though the grand display (often augmented by flames, sparks and shooting fog) certainly made for an even more enjoyable evening, the singer proved in the encore she didn't need a single frill to command attention. Turning in the first verse and chorus of "I Will Always Love You" (dedicated to memory of Whitney Houston) was perhaps the best example of her powerful pipes, which remained remarkably poised during "Halo," even as she jumped into the front row for high fives and hugs. Oddly enough, that gorgeous grand finale trailed off somewhat abruptly in favor of band introductions and thank you speeches, and while the night didn't exactly cap off with a crescendo, there was still no denying Beyonce's sincerity or her place as one of today's most talented and influential all around entertainers.

"The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" starring Beyonce returns to Chicago's United Center on Friday, December 13. For additional details, visit and

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