Beyonce performed to tens of thousands of screaming fans on Sunday night in Colombia’s second city, Medellin, filling the valley with R’n’B beats and crackling melodies as the city’s nightly thunderstorm flashed in the distance.
Some 42,000 fans came from all over Colombia, some from beyond its borders, to see “Queen B” in her first visit to Colombia, their t-shirts and headbands adorned with her image. And after almost an hour of breathless waiting, the floodlights of the Atanasio Girardot Stadium cut out, and the singer exploded into “Run the World” amidst bursts of flames, lights and dancers.
An hour and a half later Beyonce left the stage for the last time, the echoes of the final climbing phrases of “Halo” slowly eaten up by her fans’ repeated mantra: “Beyonce, Beyonce, Beyonce”.
Medellin had been preparing for the arrival of the 17-time Grammy winner since last Thursday, with the city printing a limited-edition run of 7 thousand Metro cards emblazoned with an image of Beyonce dressed as a glittering queen and the name of the tour, “The Mrs. Carter Show”. Two football games were cancelled and the city’s hotels were 97% full, with fans given the choice of spending $35 for the standard ticket or $260 for VIP.
During the concert, which cost over $5 million to put on, Beyonce mixed lesser-known songs like “Freakum Dress” and “I Miss You” with her biggest hits, among them “Baby Boy,” “Crazy in Love,” “Single Ladies” and “Irreplaceable,” which she sang in both English and Spanish from the B-stage after flying over the crowd in a dazzling blue jumpsuit.
The most poignant moment of the night came with Beyonce’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You”, in homage to singer and idol Whitney Houtson, who died in early 2012.
“This concert is really important for Medellin,” said the Deputy Mayor of the city, Luis Fernandez Suarez. “It has given us the chance to show that we can handle a massive logistical operation.”
An estimated 40% of the fans had travelled into the city especially for the concert, with some coming from other Latin American countries. Colombia was one of three countries in South America – with Brazil and Venezuela – that made up part of Beyonce’s world tour. She now travels to Mexico, where she will perform in Monterrey on Tuesday.
Seattle-born Michelle Wells, who has been living in the Colombian department of Boyaca for the last year, flew in to the city from Bogota with four friends. She described the concert to Colombia Reports as “fantastic, everyone was singing along with the songs and Beyonce gave it so much energy – it made me forget that I was in Colombia for a second! It’s great that this country can attract global superstars like Beyonce.”
Marca Pais, the pubic-private organization tasked with improving Colombia’s image, awarded 1500 free tickets to the best students in the University of Antioquia, members of the security forces, local athletes, and members of the region’s Afro-Colombian communities.