Sometimes, we need to be reminded how important Beyoncé is. We can call her overrated or mediocre all we like, but we can’t deny her impact, artistry or legacy. To do what Bey did at Coachella 2018, it takes a level of talent and showmanship unmatched by anyone alive. As the first black woman to headline the emblematic festival, she delivered one of the greatest live performances ever put to tape, a set rooted in blackness that singlehandedly justifies all the praise ever heaped upon her.
HOMECOMING, a live album documenting Beyoncé’s magnificent set, is just as thrilling as the corresponding Netflix film. Almost 2 hours long, it’s basically a greatest hits record; a brilliant, high octane 40-song salvo. Her performance is electric, and her voice is impeccable, whether on the acidic, Malcolm X-quoting “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” or the Sister-Nancy-sampling “Hold Up”.
The backbone of the show is her backing marching band, The Bzzzz, a potent mix of brass and snares weaving threads of black music into Beyoncé’s tapestry of hits. On “Crazy In Love,” they incorporate the strings from Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up.” They introduce “Deja Vu” with the horns from Fela Kuti’s “Zombie.” They slip the brass of Young Money’s “Trophies” into the “Flawless/Feelin’ Myself” medley. In one of my favorite moments, they drop into DRAM’s “Broccoli” in the last seconds of “Countdown,” which ends far too soon.
There are some towering peaks here. I’m reminded what a banger “7/11” is when its embellished with horns. “Party” is turned into a delightful blitz of handclaps and horns. “I Been On” is pure chopped and screwed magic.
Then there’s “Drunk In Love.” It’s triumphant, the horns riotously blaring, the drums knocking with force, Beyoncé belting passionately, what sounds like all of Indio screaming the title phrase. “Swag Surfin” and Soulja Boy are interpolated. A step routine is involved. The song is a shining point on an album of them.
HOMECOMING is a pure delight, a marvel cementing Beyoncé as one of the greatest musical icons of our time.