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
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
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.
– Protest by Byrne –
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
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
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
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
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.
– X Japan reunites with hologram –
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.