Beyonce delivered a career-defining set at Glastonbury Sunday night (June 26). The pop diva headlined the decades-old British music festival, performing from the pyramid stage to an estimated 175,000 people for over 90 minutes. She also appeared on Sunday's BET Awards via satellite.
Her hit-heavy set opened with "Crazy In Love" and included chart-toppers "Single Ladies," "If I Were a Boy," "Telephone" and "Irreplaceable," several Destiny's Child favorites (among them: "Survivor," "Independent Women," "Jumpin' Jumpin'" and "Say My Name"), along with several covers and snippets of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughtta Know" and the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams."
In one of the show's sexiest moments, Beyonce, backed up by an all-female band, writhed on her back while singing a medley of Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire" and Prince's "The Beautiful Ones." She followed it up atop a white grand piano from where she delivered her latest single, "1 + 1."
Mid-set, Beyonce prompted the crowd for a shout-out to BET. She pulls double duty on Sunday night, with top billing on the network's BET Awards, where her performance will be beamed via satellite.
Clearly taken by the size of the massive crowd, Beyonce, whose new album 4 arrives this Tuesday, remarked, "I've done a lot of things in my life, but I have never performed in front of 175,00 people." The crowd erupted in applause in return, but not as loudly as when an image of President Barack Obama appeared during the song "At Last" following a montage of iconic images of the Civil Rights movement. A BBC broadcast of the show also panned over to side-stage where Beyonce's husband Jay-Z and Gwyneth Paltrow were seen hanging on to each other.
Beyonce closed her set with the primal "Girls (Run the World)" followed by the ballad "Halo," during which she walked off the stage and down to the crowd.
Following her performance, fellow pop star George Michael tweeted, "Just watching Beyonce's performance at Glastonbury. I love that woman. Great artist, writer,singer, person ... Something so generous about the fact that she covered songs that acknowledged Glastonbury's typical audience. Very few American artists ... would take the time or have the respect for a foreign audience to do that. She just gets better and better."
Interviewed by the BBC later in the night, Beyonce told the network that she was "very nervous" and had sent Coldplay's Chris Martin her set list in advance. "I made sure he approved it and, of course, Jay. They all told me to relax and be myself," she said.
Beyonce also credited her husband, who had headlined Glastonbury in 2008, with making her pyramid stage performance possible. "I don't normally do festivals," she explained. "It's so much love and unity in the audience. It was beautiful."
Of her choice in covers, Beyonce explained that she had a hard time narrowing it down to only a few. She chose "Sex on Fire" for a simple reason: "I love that song," she said.
Her most emotional moment of the show, she added, was during "Halo." A video display of smiling faces from Glastobury attendees triggered it. "At one point, I had to stop myself because I got really emotional on 'Halo," she said, "My team worked really hard filming for three days and being able to touch all the fans, it was a beautiful moment for me."
(Editing by Jillian Mapes, Billboard)