Beyonce throws Coachella homecoming with Destiny’s Child reunion

Beyonce performs Saturday during the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, April 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 April 2018
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Beyonce throws Coachella homecoming with Destiny’s Child reunion

INDIO, United States: Beyonce returned spectacularly to the stage Saturday with a joyous, homecoming-themed party at the Coachella festival where she delighted fans with a rare reunion of her former trio Destiny’s Child.
Before a sea of some 100,000 people in the southern California desert, the pop superstar headlined the second night of the premier global music festival, ending a year-long hiatus from live music as she gave birth to twins.
Beyonce showed no sign of slowing down after her maternity leave, singing and strutting her stuff with little break for two hours as she led around 100 back-up dancers and musicians.
Her husband, rap mogul Jay-Z, popped up on stage toward the end of her set to join in their song “Deja Vu.” But he turned out to be only a preview of a less routine guest appearance.
With an audio recording of novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay “We Should All Be Feminists” allowing Beyonce a moment to prepare, she re-emerged being elevated to the stage in an unmistakable silhouette of three figures.
Fellow Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyonce for three of the trio’s songs, including “Say My Name.”
It was their first reunion since Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show in 2013. The group propelled Beyonce to stardom but was also beset by internal friction.
On Saturday, Beyonce referred to her bandmates as her “sisters” — and was also joined on stage by her real sister, Solange Knowles.
Beyonce made clear from the start that Coachella was about reuniting, with an announcer starting the show by welcoming guests to her “homecoming.”
A school’s worth of brass and string players played from stadium-style stands as Beyonce entered to a New Orleans-style march. She sported an all-American outfit of tight jean shorts and a collegiate sweatshirt — the Greek letters, of course, starting with “B.”
After revving up the crowd with fireworks and the boisterous “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce offered a take on “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the unofficial African American national anthem.
Beyonce voiced pride that she was the first black woman to headline Coachella. She is one of the few women to top the bill of any major festival, a sign of lingering male dominance of the music industry.
Coachella takes place over two consecutive weekends with identical lineups.
Next weekend, Beyonce may want to check her shoes — after changing into a racier bodysuit, she appeared to hold herself back at moments for fear of dancing her feet out of her boots.
While Beyonce went light on the politics, New Wave pioneer David Byrne of Talking Heads fame delivered a forceful statement against racism as he covered Janelle Monae’s protest anthem “Hell You Talmbout.”
Set only to percussion, Byrne updated the song about African Americans fatally shot by police or in other racially charged incidents.
Reciting each name, from Emmett Till who was lynched in 1955 to Stephon Clark who was shot dead by police last month in California’s state capital Sacramento when holding his cell phone, Byrne’s band implored the crowd, “Say his name!“
The track belied the tone of Byrne’s set, which was infused with his signature sly irony. Barefoot in a gray suit, Byrne opened sitting in a school desk and holding a brain, which he serenaded with “Here,” a track about neuroscience off his new album “American Utopia.”
Byrne, in what he has described as his most ambitious stage project since Talking Heads, designed a strikingly sleek space with chain curtains delineating a clear floor and his 11-piece band, dressed identically to him, all wireless.
Dancing first with mime-like body thrusts, with Byrne throwing his hands forward as if off-kilter on the Talking Heads classic “Same As It Ever Was,” the band took the shape of a campfire party as the sun set on the palm trees behind them.
The band took turns playing solos that showed the scope of Byrne’s global influences, from Latin-inspired bongo drums to a Middle Eastern-tinged whammy bar session on guitar by Byrne himself.
Coachella also marked an unusually intimate return for X Japan, megastars of Japanese metal in the 1980s who are planning their first new album in more than two decades this year.
Accustomed to packing arenas, the group managed to pull in a smaller but respectable crowd of hundreds despite the misfortune of playing at the same time as Beyonce.
X Japan paid tribute to its two late members — guitarist Hide and bassist Taiji, who both died in apparent but contested suicides — with the song “Endless Rain” as well as holograms that reunited them on stage.
Previewing the new music, which frontman Toshi will sing in English in his piercing voice, X Japan showed its blend of furious hard rock and symphonic structure with key songwriter Yoshiki — topless with a neck brace after years of physically devastating head-banging — alternating between drums and piano.
X Japan also brought two guest guitarists — Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit and Richard Fortus of latter-day Guns N’ Roses — a sign of the deep esteem the band enjoys in the rock world, if not yet the US general public.


Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

Updated 25 September 2018
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Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

  • Cirque du Soleil created a spectacular show in Riyadh
  • They paid tribute to Saudi culture and heritage

RIYADH: The circus — a place that is almost synonymous with joy and delight. Since time immemorial, circuses have been places of celebration and glee, and few as much as the premier name in the industry: Cirque du Soleil.

The show has had a devoted fan in me since 2006, when I attended a performance of their production “Quidam” and my definition of the word “circus” was turned upside-down. Their unique approach to art, performance, costumes and music has secured their status as a household name and a benchmark for all other circus shows to be measured against.

On Sunday night, Saudi Arabia’s National Day, the circus brought their incredible acrobatics to Riyadh’s King Fahad Stadium and it turned out to be a night to remember.



Prior to the event, Cirque’s Vice President of Creation Daniel Fortin offered little in the way of spoilers but hinted that we would see something the likes of which we never had before. With the promises of exclusive new acts, music, costumes and stage tricks piquing my excitement, I joined a throng of green-and white-clad spectators flooding the stadium. Performing to a sold-out crowd, the show kicked off at exactly 8.30 p.m. and the magic truly began.

Barely five minutes into the show, something stole over me as I settled into the rhythm of the music, something I saw flickering over the faces of those in the crowd around me: Recognition. We were seeing ourselves, our identity, echoed back at us, but with a twist. We saw ourselves through someone else’s eyes — someone respectful and admiring.



As a Saudi youth today, it has become an unfortunately common occurrence to face negativity from various outsiders, born of ignorance or fear. It has become dreary and repetitive to have to continually defend my people and my culture from those who have no wish to understand us.

But at this show? I saw my country once more through the eyes of an outsider, but this time, it was different. I saw my culture and my heritage lauded, celebrated, delicately fused with that tangible Cirque du Soleil flair. The attention to detail was careful, almost loving, but also daring and outlandish. It was a glorious fusion of classic Saudi aesthetics with the ethereal, bizarre beauty of Cirque du Soleil.


The symbolism was not always obvious, sometimes it was subtle, constrained to the beat of a drum or hidden in a snatch of song. Other times, it was blatant and bold, in the sloping hump of an elegantly clumsy camel costume, or the billowing of the Bedouin Big Top in the gentle breeze. And yet, unmistakeably, I felt the Saudi influences in every note of the performance. It felt like an homage, and yet it did nothing to diminish its own identity. It remained unquestionably a Cirque du Soleil performance, only below the usual circus frippery, there was a ribbon of something else that lay coiled beneath the surface. Something bright, vibrant green. Saudi green.

The spectacle rounded off with an astonishing display of fireworks, so plentiful that for a moment, the sky glowed bright as day. To me, each one felt like a promise fulfilled. A dream achieved. A miracle witnessed. Here, on my own home soil, it was the perfect tribute to a rich and vivid culture.