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I Am... World Tour

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I Am... World Tour (sometimes referred to as the I Am... Tour) was the fourth concert tour by American recording artist Beyoncé. It was launched in support of her third studio album, I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008). The tour was announced in October 2008 and the first dates were revealed in December 2008. It kicked off in late-March 2009 with five rehearsal shows in North America, officially commencing in late April 2009. The tour visited the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia with 108 shows in total. Preparations for the shows began eight months prior to the beginning of the tour with twelve-hour rehearsals for two months. Knowles described the shows as her best and most theatrical from all of her tours. Pre-concert food drives were held during several stops of the I Am... World Tour as part of a campaign by General Mills' Hamburger Helper entitled, "Show Your Helping Hand" where fans were asked to bring food during the concerts.

The set list for the concerts included songs from Knowles' three studio albums as well as several covers of other artists and a Destiny's Child medley. The central theme of the tour was to showcase the difference between Knowles' dual personality; her emotional side and her onstage persona, Sasha Fierce which was also demonstrated in the dual album I Am... Sasha Fierce. The show featured two stages - the main one and a smaller B-stage where Knowles was transferred during the middle of the show. She was backed by an all-female band, female background dancers and a big LED screen. Thierry Mugler collaborated with Knowles on the costumes and had a creative advisor role further working on the choreography, lighting and production. Chris March made the costumes usable for stage and helped in their making. For the ballads, Knowles wore longer dresses while for the performances of the up-tempo songs, more make-up and more revealing outfits were worn. The fashion and Knowles' look and figure received praise from critics. I Am... World Tour received critical acclaim from music critics who praised Knowles' performance abilities calling her the best female performer and chose the performances of "Ave Maria", "Listen" and "At Last" as highlights during the shows. A concert in Malaysia was cancelled by Knowles after several Muslim groups tried to ban it although she agreed to tone down her look according to the country's standards. The tour was commercially successful grossing $119.5 million from 108 shows in total. Separate performances of several songs were broadcast on different channels and two concerts were released as live albums; the live performance at the I Am... Yours revue was released in a CD/DVD format in 2009 and footage of the tour was released on an eponymous titled live album in 2010                                                                                                                                   

BackgroundEdit

In 2006, during an interview with MTV News, Knowles talked about her more aggressive stage persona, Sasha Fierce. She said: "I absolutely get scared every time I get on the stage. I get nervous. I'm actually really scared when I'm not nervous because then I don't transform into that person that people are used to seeing." She added that in real life, she was nothing like the person people see in her videos and performances: "I'm really more quiet, reserved. I speak when spoken to and polite. When I'm onstage, I'm aggressive, I'm strong, I'm fearless." Knowles' third album I Am... Sasha Fierce formally introduced Sasha Fierce as her alter ego; she revealed that Sasha was born during the making of her single "Crazy in Love" (2003). In an interview with People magazine, Knowles affirmed that her alter ego is strictly for the stage and Sasha Fierce was further described as the singer's sensual, aggressive alter ego. In October 2008, Billboardmagazine reported that Knowles would go on tour in the spring of 2009 to support her third studio album. Beyoncé's father and manager Mathew Knowles revealed that it would visit different countries worldwide. The tour dates for the European leg were announced in December 2008. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Knowles confirmed that she was excited about the tour and that she would be backed by her all-female band which also accompanied her during her previous tour The Beyoncé Experience (2007). She also stated that she worked on the tour for eight months, rehearsing and trying to put the set list together. Knowles further revealed that the twelve-hour rehearsals for the tour included dancing the choreography in heels for two months before it commenced. She also added that she learnt to make transition from herself to Sasha Fierce really fast for the performances. Knowles further acknowledged that I Am... World Tour was a huge production and that she was proud of the theatrical show she created. She said that it was a mixture of everything she loved: "I tried to bring jazz and hip-hop, and ballet and fashion, and everything together... It is the best thing I've done as far as my tours go."

The tour kicked off in late-March 2009 with five rehearsal shows in North America and it officially commenced in late April 2009, at Arena Zagreb in Croatia later visiting the AmericasEuropeAsiaAfrica, and Australia. Nearly eight months after the release of I Am ... Sasha Fierce, Knowles brought the tour in support of the album to North America. Pre-sale tickets for members of her fan club were available on April 20, 2009 and general public sales began on April 25, 2009. The six-week North American leg of the I Am... World Tour kicked off on June 21 with a show at Madison Square Garden in New York and finished with a four-night residency at Encore in the Wynn Las Vegas from July 30, 2009 to August 2, 2009. The tour finished with a concert at Queen's Park Savannah in Port of SpainTrinidad and Tobago, with 108 shows in total. Knowles and her organization, The Survivor Foundation, became the spokesperson for General MillsHamburger Helper campaign entitled, "Show Your Helping Hand". The campaign's mission was to provide more than 3.5 million meals to local food banks in North America. Knowles encouraged spectators to bring non-perishable foods to her North American concerts to be donated to the campaign. According to the campaign's official website, nearly three millions meals and over $50,000 have been donated.

SetlistEdit

  1. "Crazy in Love"
  2. "Naughty Girl"
  3. "Freakum Dress"
  4. "Get Me Bodied"
  5. "Smash Into You"
  6. "Ave Maria" / "Angel"
  7. "Broken-Hearted Girl"
  8. "If I Were a Boy" / "You Oughta Know"
  9. "Diva"
  10. "Radio"
  11. "Me, Myself and I"
  12. "Ego"
  13. "Hello"
  14. "Baby Boy"
  15. "Irreplaceable"
  16. "Check on It"
  17. Destiny's Child Medley: "Bootylicious" / "Bug a Boo" / "Jumpin', Jumpin'"
  18. "Upgrade U"
  19. "Video Phone"
  20. "Say My Name"
  21. "At Last"
  22. "Listen"
  23. "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
  24. Halo

DevelopmentEdit

In 2006, Knowles sat down with MTV News to talk about her more aggressive stage persona, Sasha Fierce. She said: "I absolutely get scared every time I get on the stage," she said. "I get nervous. I'm actually really scared when I'm not nervous because then I don't transform into that person that people are used to seeing." She added that in real life, she was nothing like that girl people see in her videos and performances: "I'm really more quiet, reserved. I speak when spoken to and polite," she explained. "When I'm onstage, I'm aggressive, I'm strong, I'm fearless. So I'm not who I really am in real life."[11]

[edit]FashionEdit

[1][2]Thierry Mugler design sketches for Knowles' tour

After several years of retirement from the fashion industry, French designer Thierry Mugler served as the main costume designer for the tour. Knowles was attracted with his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 2008, "Superheroes, Fashion and Fantasy", where several of his haute couture pieces were on display. He has conducted a 72-piece wardrobe for Knowles and her dancers and band for the tour. It was announced that Mugler's input will extend to a creative advisor role, as he will contribute to designing the whole show, from lighting to choreography.[12]

Mugler wanted to capture the "duality between being a woman and a warrior" and "understand these two sides with [his] own perception of both aspects" while creating the costumes for Knowles and using the words "Feminine. Free. Warrior. Fierce" as inspiration.[13] He felt "Sasha Fierce is another aspect of Beyoncé's personality, she is Fierce on stage and Beyoncé in real life",[13] stating, "Beyoncé is a very sophisticated 'stage animal', which means that she is truly instinctive. Beyoncé expresses herself through the two aspects of her personality. On stage, there is Sasha Fierce and there is Beyoncé in her truest self."

Several of the costumes both in the stage show and the video interludes include a few vintage couture pieces by Mugler as well as new ones made specifically for the young diva.

As creative advisor, Mugler stated "It was my responsibility to make Beyoncé's vision come true. There will be a lot of dramatization and metamorphosis on stage. Some very strong effects have been inspired directly by Beyoncé, and only she could make (them) happen on stage. I also was the AD (assistant director) for the Diva video shot especially for the show. I also gave input for various visual and creative aspects of the show." and wanted to send the message that, "The sense of mise-en-scène or using everything we get, like technology, lights, sets and costumes in order to sublimate the emotions and energy that we share and want to share with others."

[edit]Notable showsEdit

Main article: I Am... Yours

Knowles and her organization, "The Survivor Foundation", became the spokesperson for General Mills' Hamburger Helper campaign entitled, "Show Your Helping Hand". The campaign's mission is to provide more than 3.5 million meals to local food banks in North America. Knowles encouraged spectators to bring non-perishable foods to her North American concerts to be donated to the campaign. According to the campaign's official website, nearly three millions meals and over $50,000 have been donated.[14]

As the grand opening of Donetsk's new sporting arena, the Donbass Arena drew near, it was announced by local organizers that Knowles' will perform as part of her tour. The ceremony involved a dance production dedicated to Ukraine's miners. Local artists Natal'ya Mogilevskaya, Svetlana Loboda and Aliona Vinnitskaya performed Queen's "We Will Rock You". Afterwards, a speech by Victor Yushchenko, president of Ukraine was given. Knowles performed audience of nearly 45,000.[15][16]

While Knowles was on tour, she was asked to perform a Las Vegas residency-type show. Knowles and her team produced the shows in seven days. Entitled "I Am… Yours", Knowles performed a MTV Unplugged styled show, at the Encore Theater in Las Vegas. Knowles wanted these shows to be drastically different from her tour, stating it was not to be "the typical Beyoncé experience". The August 2, 2009 show was recorded and later released as a DVD, audio CD and television special in late November 2009.

Concert synopsisEdit

"There will be a lot of dramatization and metamorphosis on stage. Some very strong effects have been inspired directly by Beyoncé, and only she could make (them) happen on stage" said lead costume provider and a creative advisor Thierry Mugler. The main stage is a simple stage, with a pop up set of stairs, a big LED background screen and glass risers for Knowles' band Suga Mama and her backup singers "The Mamas". There is also a smaller stage (The B-Stage) in the middle of the crowd where Knowles later performs.

The show starts with Knowles' silhouette appearing in the middle of the main stage singing the first verse of "Déjà Vu", the main stage is flooded in light revealing Knowles, as she proceeds to sing "Crazy in Love". She continues to perform "Naughty Girl", "Freakum Dress" and "Get Me Bodied". Knowles later emerges atop a flight of stairs singing "Smash Into You". Later, she performs "Ave Maria", adding an excerpt from Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and Franz Schubert's Ave Maria". She continues on to sing "Broken-Hearted Girl". At the conclusion of the song, outtakes from Knowles' "If I Were a Boy" music video are shown before she appears to perform the aforementioned song. She includes an excerpt from Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" and Tupac Shakur's "California Love".

A video interlude directed by Melina Matsoukas is shown as excerpts from Knowles "Sweet Dreams" play in the background. This is a short introduction before Knowles performs "Diva", Beyoncé appears at the atop a flight of stairs with her backup dancers behind her. This is followed by another video interlude showing Knowles singing and dancing at the age of 5. Beyoncé then sings "Radio", "Me, Myself and I", Ego" and "Hello".

The show continues with a short medley performed by her backup singers, The Mamas, followed by another video interlude featuring a coin toss between Beyoncé and Sasha Fierce. Knowles then appears from under the stage. She is wrapped in a harness and taken up and over the audience where she performs "Baby Boy". She is then lowered to the B-Stage where she finishes the "Baby Boy" number with an excerpt from Dawn Penn's "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" then continues with "Irreplaceable", "Check On It" and a medley of Destiny's Child hits. She then performs "Upgrade U" and "Video Phone". This is followed by a rendition of "Say My Name" where she interacts with one member of the audience, asking that person what his or her name is and then asks that person what her name is. As the song ends she runs through the audience to the main stage. Her backup dancers dance to excerpts of Destiny's Child's songs, as well as, "Beautiful Liar".

In the penultimate section of the show, Knowles appears in the middle of the stage as she sings "At Last", "Listen" and at some venues "Scared of Lonely". This is followed by a Youtube video interlude featuring imitations of the choreography for "Single Ladies" performed by fans. Beyoncé then sings "Single Ladies" with an interlude that contains excerpts from the Isley Brothers' "Shout". For the finale, she performs "Halo". She then goes to the top of her stairs and repeatedly says 'I am', awaiting the crowd to say it back, she then says 'I am... yours' and exits the stage.

[edit]Controversy over tour concert in MalaysiaEdit

In September 2009, it was announced by The Associated Press that Knowles would be bringing her show to Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur, on October 25, 2009, but it would be without some of her usual tricks. After encountering what became familiar opposition from religious groups in a predominantly Muslim country, the singer agreed to tone down some parts of her act. A spokesperson for the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party stated: "We are against Western sexy performances; we don't think our people need that." However, a rep soon came from the concert's Malaysian organizer, stating that "all parties have reached an amicable understanding" about the performance. He went on saying that Knowles should be regarded as a "role model" and an "embodiment of success" because of her philanthropic work, including campaigns against poverty and domestic violence. Two years ago, Knowles was on the verge of doing a show in Malaysia but backed out due to similar protests regarding the singer's performance. Other artists, including RihannaGwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne, had toned down their shows for Malaysian dates in recent years.

The Marctensia rep further told The Associated Press: "We are confident that Beyoncé's concert will once and for all silence international critics and put Malaysia back on track and move up the ranks in presenting A-list international pop concerts in this region and further boost tourism." However, it was ultimately announced in October 2009 that the concert has been postponed in the wake of accusations by Islamic conservatives that the show would be "immoral". Malaysian promoter Marctensia said in a statement: "The show has been postponed to a future date to be announced shortly. The postponement is solely (the) decision of the artist and has nothing to with other external reasons." Another representative declined to comment on whether the show was postponed due to the heavy criticism it was receiving from religious leaders in the country.

Critical response

The opening leg of Knowles' third tour received generally positive reviews from critics. Mike Ross of the Edmonton Sun gave her performance at Rexall Place 4.5 out of 5 stars stating, "Beyoncé can sing traditional R&B if she wants. She proved it late last night – wailing on the Etta James classic "At Last", which she performed for the inauguration of U.S president Barack Obama".[21] Stephanie Classen of The Star Phoenix remarked, "Beyoncé doesn't really need the bells and whistles of a big stadium show, but it sure makes for an unforgettable concert. And as she says in the song Ego, "I walk like this 'cuz I can back it up."[22] Additional praise was received from Randall King of the Winnipeg Free Press. He gave a 4 out 5 to Knowles performance at the MTS Centre, saying, "In Sasha-mode for songs such as "Radio", "Sweet Dreams", and "Single Ladies" (the latter performed, alas, after press time), Knowles is raw energy convincingly expressing a live hard/work hard ethos with every shimmy and nimble vocal trill".[23] Alice Jones of The Independent writes, "Watching Beyoncé sing and strut her stuff can feel at best overawing, at worst, alienating. She takes her role as entertainer so seriously she's almost too good."[5] The New York Times writes, "there is a breathtaking elegance in her acute desire to entertain".[24] Renee Michelle Harris of the South Florida Times writes, Knowles "owns the stage with her trademark swagger and intensity... showcasing her powerful vocals without missing a note, often while engaged in vigorous, perfectly executed dance moves...no one, not Britney, not Ciara and not Rihanna can offer what she does—a complete package of voice, moves and presence."[25]

[edit]Commercial performanceEdit

Knowles broke her record of concert attendees by selling out the Morumbi Stadium in Sao PauloBrazil, with over 60,000 tickets sold and the show grossed more than $ 4,2 million.[26]

In 2009, the tour was nominated for "Eventful Fans' Choice Award" at the 6th Annual Billboard Touring Awards.[27] The tour grossed $103 million from 102 concert shows[28][29] and 108 show total grossed $119.5 million.[30]

[edit]Broadcasts and recordingsEdit

The Las Vegas show on August 2, 2009 was recorded and released as I Am... Yours: An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas. Parts of the show in Vancouver on March 31, 2009 were recorded and have been used for commercial use, as well as photos from the show used in the official tour book and other promotional items. "Crazy In Love" was recorded professionally in Madrid, Spain and broadcast on Spanish news. Two songs from the show in New Orleans, "If I Were A Boy" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," were recorded and shown on TV One as a part of the Essence Music Festival. A CD and DVD, released on June 15, 2010, features her performance of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." Five songs from the show in DonetskUkraine, "Crazy In Love", "Freakum Dress", "Get Me Bodied", "Smash Into You" and "Broken-Hearted Girl," were recorded professionally and shown on TRK Ukraina as part of their footage of the Donbass Arena opening. "Crazy In Love" was professionally recorded at the O2 Arena in Prague,Czech Republic for the Czech news-website tn.cz and is available for streaming. "Crazy In Love" and "Single Ladies" were professionally recorded at the Summer Sonic Festival in OsakaJapan and used to promote Knowles' Japanese tour. "Crazy In Love" and "Naughty Girl" were professionally recorded at the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix F1 Rocks event in Singapore for Channel HD 5 Live coverage. "Crazy In Love", "Naughty Girl," and "Freakum Dress" were recorded and streamed live on the internet from the show in BeijingChina. "Crazy In Love" was recorded professionally and shown on Frecuencia Latina from the show in LimaPeru at the Explanada del Estadio Monumental. A live CD/DVD of the concert was released as I Am... World Tour in November 2010.[31]

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