Pop concerts at AT&T Stadium always aim to stun, but nobody can out-spectacle Beyonce, who brought her Formation Tour to Arlington on Monday night. It seamlessly folded the Houston superstar's past hits in with the eyebrow-raising relationship fodder of the brand-new album, Lemonade.
Here's the play-by-play from Monday's nearly-sold-out blowout. Spoilers ahead, for those heading to future stops:
8:20 p.m. -- DJ Khaled was given the honor of hyping the crowd up (as if it needed it) and did his job well. He paced the stage and intro'ed jam after jam. There were classic hip-hop hits thrown in -- Biggie's "Hypnotize" did the trick. Khaled went to the booth here and there, too, scratchin' a little. He also brought out a parade of rappers and artists including Houston's Bun B, who did his bars from "Big Pimpin'."
9:21 p.m. -- The screams hit an entirely new level when the woman of the hour stepped out and opened with, of course, "Formation." Her squad of dancers helped achieve the breakneck choreography from the video and February's Super Bowl performance. In many ways, the early part of the concert gave off the same vibe as her stolen Super Bowl moment -- sass, defiance and female empowerment in abundance.
'Yonce and her pack first broke into dance on the main stage in front of a giant video cube that served as the whole production's focal point. Then they walked a catwalk out to the middle of the floor, and all seat organization went out the window as folks tripped over themselves to get closer and digitally document everything.
After "Formation," it was another Lemonade track, the delightful kiss-off "Sorry," during which the whole stadium yelled, "Better call Becky with the good hair." Another anthem came with "Run the World (Girls)." That beat was crisp and the sound quite clear, although it could have been a different story for the nosebleeds.
9:45 p.m. -- After a video interlude, B and her 14 dancers returned, this time all in sparkly white getups. They gave us short snippets of "Baby Boy," "Mine," "Countdown," and then slowed down the tempo with "Me, Myself and I." She intro'ed the latter thusly: "This song is about the most important relationship you have in life -- the relationship with yourself." The love kept flowing with Lemonade's "All Night," which Beyonce said featured her favorite lyrics from the new album.
10:10 p.m. -- After another interlude that contained a righteous guitar solo, the gargantuan video cube split in half and out came Beyonce, alone in a glittery gold two-piece. She kicked out the aggressive rocker "Hurt Yourself" before two dancers rolled out a throne. She took a seat and headbanged in the throne. More anger, with "Ring the Alarm." More dancers. Destiny's Child snippets. Utter chaos on the floor.
10:18 p.m. -- We are in the middle of some sort of mini-empowerment marathon. We heard "Diva," "Flawless" (the elevator-referencing remix, at that) and "Feeling Myself" in short order.
I want this pack of dancers to follow me everywhere for a day.
"Changed the game when that Lemonade dropped," she rapped. "I stopped the world!" Indeed.
10:24 p.m. -- "Yonce" and "Drunk in Love" were two more reminders of the original world-stopping digital drop -- her 2014 self-titled album. No choreography on "Drunk," as B used the song to walk around and connect with front-row fans.
10:33 p.m. -- You should see what this woman can do on a fainting couch. She nearly defied gravity during "Rocket," and that's all I will say. Next time we saw her, she was posing and gesturing with her dancers inside a section of the big cube. That damn cube can do everything!
10:40 p.m. -- The Texas diva stepped and stomped to her "country" tune, "Daddy Lessons." She'd changed into a regal, gold-plated one-piece that reminded me of Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" years.
"Y'all are awesome," she told the crowd before offering up two more emotional selections -- her own "1+1" and, sniff, Prince's "The Beautiful Ones." Then she disappeared, the whole cube went purple, and the house sang along to "Purple Rain," lit phones in the air.
11 p.m. -- We were afraid that the slowed-down "50 Shades" take on "Crazy in Love" was all we would get of B's first smash, but the remix segued into the original version, and then came "Bootylicious." And "Naughty Girl." She brought the power, the anger and the feels earlier -- now is the time for pure joy. And here comes "Party," complete with confetti all over the place. No expense spared. Oh, and did I mention that B and company are now decked out in red latex?
11:10 p.m. -- The show's final section begins after a montage of home videos on the big Bey cube. The dancers and their leader march out on a shallow pool of water and do Lemonade's epic climax, "Freedom." Beyonce is at her most Rhythm Nation-y here, and there ain't nothin' wrong with that. The way they dance and splash in the water also gives me shades of TLC. The remaining tunes are "Survivor," "End of Time" and "Halo," putting the punctuation on what is certainly the ultimate Beyonce experience. ... Until she figures out a way to outdo herself.