Did Beyonce really get paid US$24 million for a genuinely mind-blowing 75-minute performance at the “Grand Opening Weekend” of the new Atlantis The Royal in Dubai? The answer also seems to be that many reporters don’t really care about foreign exchange rates.
When Dubai’s famous Atlantis the Palm held its grand opening in 2008, the event was widely touted as the most extravagant hotel opening of all time with various celebrity guests like Robert De Niro, Michael Jordan, and Charlize Theron, as well as a performance from Kylie Minogue. Over a decade later, Atlantis had to think bigger for its latest project.
The biggest news on the internet over the past weekend has been that none other than Beyonce was paid $24 million for a full performance on Saturday, January 21 on the newly-minted grounds of Atlantis the Royal.
A private concert, by the way, and one that was only directly witnessed by around 1,000 guests made up of big-name celebrities like Kendall Jenner, JAY-Z, Ronan Keating and Beyonce’s very talented sister, Solange – as well journalists, VIP guests and social media personalities from all over the world.
The figure most publications are going with is $24 million, with no currency specified. If that’s USD, then Beyonce was paid AU$34.3 million for a 60-minute concert. If AED, then the figure is more like AU$9.3 million. And while that’s a bit easier to understand, I’ve been told by multiple people throughout the weekend that whoever pulled out $24 million is simply wrong.
And yet, there’s been no disclosure of how much the most powerful musician in the world was actually paid.
But I don’t want to actually guess. Because regardless of the correct figure, it must have been a sizeable amount considering the kind of performance we got.
I started out in the industry as a music journalist and have seen just about everyone of note live at least twice. Live music means a great deal to me and I’m prone to getting a bit too excited when I talk about the best concerts I’ve ever seen. But there’s no exaggeration here. The Beyonce concert in Dubai was easily the best live performance that I’ve seen in my life.
Fans wouldn’t be surprised. The Beyonce Netflix documentary, 2019’s Homecoming, went into tight detail about just how much effort “Queen B” puts into each and every one of her performances. Even if you aren’t a fan, it’s hard not to be thoroughly impressed by the Texas-born musician’s gusto and absolute dedication to her craft.
And after seeing her live for the second time, albeit in a much different context – a private Beyonce concert is brag-worthy no matter how you slice it. I’m confident in stating that she is the single greatest performer of our time.
The multi-disciplinary concert pulled on elements of Italian Rennaisance art – the background was a large-scale three-dimensional reinterpretation of Raphael’s “The School of Athens” with a large avant-garde sun in the centre – as well as ballet, Middle Eastern dance, opera and just some good ol’ contemporary R&B.
It was the most complex stage show Beyonce has put on to date, with plenty of symbolism that’ll no doubt be picked apart on the Beyonce subreddit over the next couple of days.
While not a single note of her latest album, Renaissance, was to be heard throughout the almost 75-minute performance, Beyonce performed a string of her greatest hits, many reinterpreted to suit the 48-person all-female orchestra, Firdaus, that accompanied her on stage along with her dancers – a contingent dressed in outrageously beautiful costumes from bright red sequinned suits and Victorian-era petticoats to baroque gold face masks.
Beyonce herself had a total of three outfit changes throughout the set, ranging from a lucite headpiece and a feathery bright lemon-yellow dress with fluttering wings to mimic the sun – the work of Omani designer Rayan Al Sulaimani – to a pink minidress with leggings covered in crystals and fine gold from Ukrainian designer Ivan Frolov.
It’s important to point this out because the performance was as much about visuals as it was about Beyonce’s genuinely impressive vocal range.
Her commanding voice was at its best when she was turning hit ballad ‘Halo’ into an operatic masterpiece, expressing extraordinary conviction with ‘Freedom’ and closing the performance with a hypnotic, melismatic epilogue for ‘Drunk In Love.’
And yet, as epic as that all was, there was nothing more spectacular than the visuals. This was theatre taken to new heights, making Kanye West’s rare My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy stage show look like the work of an overgrown child with a crayon in his mouth. Again, I don’t even want to imagine how expensive this show was, but Atlantis The Royal chose perfectly if they wanted to mirror the sense of high-society opulence mixed with genuine artistic flair that characterises the new resort.
In other news – Beyoncé plays her first concert at Dubai resort opening
It’s been four years since Beyoncé’s last headlining show, and her performance at the new Atlantis The Royal Resort in Dubai on Saturday night was a fittingly grand return.
The star-studded show began Saturday night like a theatrical production. Violinists crowned with metallic gold headpieces and voluminous red skirts hit the stage. Learn more