She banned photographers from her latest tour, reportedly unhappy about unflattering snaps taken during her Super Bowl performance in February. There have been criticisms over her increasingly risque choice of costumes, with claims she has followed Rihanna into shameless exhibitionism.
Reports of backstage demands as freshly installed toilet seats for her exclusive use and titanium drinking straws have fueled accusations of unfettered diva-dom.
The grandiose video which introduces her ‘Mrs Carter Show’ — Beyoncé is the wife of rapper Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter — does little to counter the suspicion that her ego may have caught up with her fame.
Surrounded by fawning courtesans, the singer sits regally as a gleaming crown in placed on her head. The message is clear. Take a hike RiRi, GaGa, and the rest — in 2013 there is only one queen of pop.
But misgivings wilt the moment a deluge of sparks heralds the real Beyoncé’s arrival. Her famous legs seeming to stretch all the way to next week, the 31-year-old shakes, pouts, and prowls her way through the stuttering feminist anthem ‘Run The World (Girls)’.
Say what you like about off-stage control freakery — as a performer Beyoncé brings a white-hot intensity closer to what you expect from a rock show than a pop concert.
Several recording studios worth of equipment are installed to one side while her 11-piece band is located on a raised platform at the back.
But the only one who matters is Beyoncé, her singing raw, unaffected, and dripping underdog edge. Absurd though it sounds, she stalks back and forth like someone with something to prove.
Lacking an album to promote, she has only one new song, ‘Grown Woman’, which features a surreal video montage of African animals and glitchy cut and paste beats (it’s almost enough to distract from the fact that Beyoncé appeared to have difficulty unfastening a zipper).
Otherwise, the set is stuffed with hits. Her determination to maintain an iron grip on her image can make Beyoncé difficult to love. But as a pop star, nobody can touch her.