One of the most highly anticipated tours ever came to Philadelphia on March 30 and April 6 2004. The heart-pounding intensity of these shows had the citizens of the City of Brotherly Love cheering out of their seats. Verizon’s Ladies First Tour was a dazzling event filled with thick booming bass, passionate high notes, and luxurious curves. The sold-out concert came to the Wachovia Center, bringing in the biggest names in the business: Beyonce Knowles, Alicia Keys, Missy Elliott, and special guest Tamia. The concert started immediately on time, so if you got there at 7:01 p.m. then you already missed two songs sung by the Canadian-born singer Tamia. She sang a short set of 15 minutes, and performed her most popular songs, like her new single “Questions.” The crowd got pumped and ready when she sang her rendition of the chorus to Kanye West’s “Through the Wire.” Tamia’s second album recently hit the stores.
Next up was Missy Elliott, whose 35-minute set contained a nonstop medley of songs from her latest album, This is Not a Test, and other past albums. Elliott is widely recognized as one of hip-hop’s premiere female artists. Within the male-dominated field of hip-hop, her sales and debuts have been nonstop. VH1’s show “Driven” said she is “one of the few women who enjoys an equal amount of success behind the scenes, as a prolific songwriter and producer, and as the head of her own record label.”
Elliott even took it back to her first album, with her song “Da Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).” Her eccentricity was proven here with three large projection screens depicting 3-D graphics, and a giant fish tank. With her dancers being almost the center of attention, sometimes one never knew who to look at. Unfortunately, Missy’s performance was too much in too little time. She sang medleys instead of whole songs, and with so many things going on at once, it was hard to keep up. Elliott ended her set with a tribute to late artists, including Aaliyah, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, Notorious B.I.G., and Tupac Shakur.
After a 45-minute waiting period, Alicia Keys was next to take the stage. Her set looked very smooth, homey, and soulful, with the background being a close-up of a diary that read “Entry Date: April 6, 2004. Place: Philadelphia, Pa.” She opened with songs from her new album The Diary of Alicia Keys and incorporated simple dance moves and beautiful vocals to get the crowd in rhythm.
During her performance Keys would start communicating with the women and men in the audience about her album and the reasons for the songs as she beautifully played the piano. She moved on to a few hit singles such as “A Woman’s Worth,” and her latest smash “If I Ain’t Got You.” Keys even gave her background singers a chance in the spotlight as they sang Alicia’s favorite old-school songs. She finished the 65-minute set with the song “You Don’t Know my Name.”
Last but not least, five-time Grammy winner Beyonce Knowles rocked the stage, coming out into the middle of the aisle in a carriage and throwing rose petals into the crowd. Knowles opened up with her hit song now topping the charts “Naughty Girl.” Knowles looked stunning in her beaded midriff-bearing shirt and mini-skirt.
Her stage was glorified with a staircase, a swing, and her dancers. Beyonce sang songs from her first album with Destiny’s Child through her solo debut
“Dangerously in Love.” With about seven wardrobe changes Knowles brought all the energy into the Wachovia.
Knowles showed us that she didn’t need Kelly and Michelle by showing her own flare and style. Her vocals and dance moves were one-of-a-kind; she looked like she was on the set of one of her videos. Knowles even talked to the crowd about men, relationships, and being a survivor. Towards the end of her 75-minute show, while singing her hit of “Crazy in Love,” love interest Jay-Z hit the stage to sing his part. The crowd went crazy, nearly drowning out the lyrics, but nobody seemed to care because everyone was so amazed. The show ended with confetti falling down onto the crowd as Beyonce was lifted from the stage hanging onto a rope.
This was an amazing show, and one that attendees will always remember as being one of the best concerts ever.