Over the Easter weekend as many people went to church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, I lay before the altar of Netflix, along with the rest of the Beyhive, to worship Beyoncé’s new documentary, Homecoming and the accompanying live album. Not your average concert documentary, Homecoming was filmed as Beyoncé became the first black woman to headline Coachella in 2018. Beyoncé notoriously and rather frustratingly at times keeps many aspects of herself and her personal life a secret. This only made Homecoming all the more special as it was an insight, however small, into the incredible creative power and determination that goes into Beyoncé’s performances.
I have been blessed to see Beyoncé live at Wembley during two of her world tours, the Formation World Tour after the release of her sixth solo album Lemonade (now finally on Spotify!) and the On The Run II Tour with Jay Z last summer. Homecoming is a true representation of the mind-blowing live performer Beyoncé is and thankfully comes at the cost of a Netflix subscription rather than a week’s worth of rent for a concert ticket. The Homecoming theme for her Coachella performance and the ensuing documentary came from her desire to showcase African-American culture, especially the community and excellence that originates in majority black colleges in the US. Beyoncé says ‘My college was Destiny’s Child’ and her intention was to create her own Homecoming, a celebration of her 22-year career.
Her Coachella stage was overflowing with an insane amount of creative talent, a beautifully diverse crew of dancers, singers and musicians, ‘personally selected’ by Beyoncé. The behind-the-scenes footage portrays a collective effort which, although led by Beyoncé, still gives individuality and space to each unique performer. I stand by her statement when she says that ‘the swag is just limitless’. Although there are over 200 other incredible performers on the stage with her she is always the star of Beychella. A Destiny’s Child reunion takes places as Kelly and Michelle join her to perform Lose My Breath, Say My Name and Soldier as well as Jay Z making an appearance for Deja Vu. The highlight for me was when Solange arrives to dance a fierce routine with her sister; their relationship is hilariously encapsulated when Solange jumps onto Beyoncé to hug her and they end up in a hysterically happy mess on the stage floor.
In my opinion, it is the footage of her first rehearsal post-pregnancy (after delivering her twins Rumi and Sir) that really shows how much Beyoncé puts herself through to perform. The film shows some of her rehearsals from after pregnancy where she looks tired, vulnerable and less like the confident choreography-killer we are used to, and how she gives everything she has, putting her body through hell to get back her strength and stamina. Whilst describing herself as a new woman and the positive impact having children has had on her she says ‘I will never, never push myself that far again’. Her goofy, proud grin when she fits back into one of her old costumes is heart-warming.
Homecoming allows us to see the amount of attention-to-detail and hard work that goes into any one of Beyoncé’s performances, but most notably the artistic energy and effort dedicated by Queen Bey herself. I would be impressed to see any other festival performerachieve any single element of her performance, from her flawless outfits, super-slick choreography to her pure energy and musical talent. Towards the end of the documentary, the voice of Maya Angelou says ‘What I really want to do is be a representative of my race’, summarising Beyoncé’s vision and the deeper intention behind her Homecoming.