Beyonce bounces back at Coachella

Beyonce wows the crowd in an all-American outfit of tight jean shorts and a collegiate sweatshirt.
Beyonce wows the crowd in an all-American outfit of tight jean shorts and a collegiate sweatshirt.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Cardi B and Eminem also performed over the weekend at Coachella.
Cardi B and Eminem also performed over the weekend at Coachella.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Cardi B and Eminem also performed over the weekend at Coachella.
Cardi B and Eminem also performed over the weekend at Coachella.PHOTOS: REUTERS

The pop superstar had to cancel her show last year because of her pregnancy. This year, she returns to headline the second night of the music festival

INDIO (United States) • When she was pregnant, Beyonce told the crowd at Coachella that she had "time to dream and dream and dream with two beautiful souls in my belly, and I dreamt up this performance".

The pop superstar was slated to perform at the premier music festival last year until doctors advised her not to, as she was expecting twins.

Over the weekend, she made up for lost time when she returned spectacularly to the stage with a joyous, homecoming-themed party.

Before some 100,000 people in the southern California desert, she headlined the second night of this year's edition of Coachella, ending a year-long hiatus from live music as she welcomed the new additions to her family.

Beyonce, 36, showed no sign of slowing down after her maternity leave, singing and strutting her stuff with little break for two hours as she led about 100 back-up dancers and musicians.

Her husband, rap mogul Jay-Z, popped up on stage towards the end of her set to join in their song Deja Vu (2006).

Beyonce, a former Destiny's Child member, also had a reunion with bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, thrilling the audience with three of the trio's songs, including Say My Name (1999).

It was their first reunion since Beyonce's Super Bowl half-time show in 2013. The group propelled her to stardom, but was also beset by internal friction and the members split up in 2006.

Last 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".

At one point in the show, Beyonce voiced pride, saying: "Thank you for allowing me to be 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 line-ups. This 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 cellphone, Byrne's band implored the crowd: "Say his name!"

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 their two late members - guitarist Hide and bassist Taiji, who both died in apparent, but contested, suicides - with the song Endless Rain and holograms that reunited them on stage.

Previewing the new music, which frontman Toshi will sing in English in his piercing voice, X Japan showed their blend of furious hard rock and symphonic structure with key songwriter Yoshiki - wearing 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 enjoy in the rock world, if not yet with the US public.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2018, with the headline 'Beyonce bounces back at Coachella'. Print Edition | Subscribe