Experiencing Beyonce 

Sept. 10, Taco Bell Arena

Last night, we braved a teeming flow of teens, 'tweens and 20-somethings moving toward the entrances of the Taco Bell Arena to see Beyonce. We wondered how some (OK, most) of the young women we saw were going to be able to stand for a three-hour concert in the heels they were wearing, but there aren't too many opportunities to get really decked out in Boise, so you take them when you can get them.

We went in the building through the security entrance to get our photographer's credentials squared away, and as we walked down the hall, we saw signs reading "wardrobe," "male dancers," and noticed a table filled with cold cuts and crackers. It's definitely a sign of our age that we were a bit more excited about a glimpse or sample of one of those than of Beyonce herself.

We found our seats and, looking around at the only partially full arena, actually found ourselves hoping Beyonce wouldn't notice the light crowd, though as the night drew on, the place filled up a bit. But when Beyonce came rising out of the floor of the stage in a plume of smoke, it sounded like 20,000 people all screaming at once. We were surprised when we discovered that, minus a few male dancers, all of Beyonce's backup players were women: dancers, drummers, percussionists, keyboardists, singers, a guitar player, a bass player, two saxophone players and a trumpet player. These women were outstanding musicians and performers; several that performed solos during the diva's costume changes. They were so outstanding, in fact, that we actually wondered if a show without all the shaking, bouncing and pop culture entertainment wouldn't be bested by a stripped-down version featuring Beyonce's voice accompanied by one of the pianists and a sax player.

But that kind of show wouldn't be the Beyonce Experience (the title of her tour). And it was an experience—even for non-fans. She sang and performed her hits such as "Beautiful Lie" (her duet with Shakira), "Baby Boy" and from her 2007 release, B'Day, "Flaws and All," during which big, glistening tears rolled down her flawless face.

The crowd seemed to lose its collective mind when Beyonce launched into tunes from her Destiny's Child days. The crowd screamed through "Survivor," "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Say My Name," but Miss B. proved she—with the help of a sound system that arrived via 14 semis (and nine tour buses) parked outside the arena—can hold her own.

—Amy Atkins and Rachael Daigle

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