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The Queen is making sure that her reign lives on.

If you hear ‘Beyoncé,’ what is the first thing that you think of?

Well you may think of the music that she has contributed or the appearances that she has made.

You may just simply refer to her as ‘flawless.’

Beyoncé has made herself known to everyone, everywhere. She has pretty much taken over the world. Beyoncé is a rare talent and she has done so much over a span of time. She looks like she hasn’t even aged a day. She even looks better every year. Beyoncé’s music also sounds as amazing as it did years ago. Her performances are to die for and you are very lucky if you even get to watch her in person. Beyoncé is unlike any other human being.

Read about Beyoncé’s latest performance below.

If Beyoncé’s fans wanted to be totally accurate in their acclaim, perhaps they wouldn’t call her Queen Bey. Queens are born into their power, but the story that she wants to sell is more meritocratic than monarchist—one about wanting, and practicing, and straining, and failing, and transcending. Her self-created documentary lavished attention on all the effort that goes into her rehearsals; her Super Bowl performance let America see her sweat; “Flawless” opens with a clip of her Star Search defeat, so that when she says “I woke up like this—flawless” it’s a winking joke. Greatness, her music says, isn’t easy.

Another thing about queens is that they serve for life whether they’re good at their jobs or not. But Beyoncé must realize that in pop music, rulers tend to be term-limited. Her former Destiny’s Child buddies, once equal to her in fame, are now overshadowed; her idol, Whitney Houston, had a relatively short run as the very must important singer in America. So why would her eternal reign be a ensured? Her biggest smash, “Single Ladies,” was in 2008; the follow-up full-length, 4, didn’t have a mega hit. Only with the surprise release of her self-titled, sonically adventurous, critically acclaimed, best-selling “visual album” at the very end of 2013 did her final coronation happen. The year that followed was one in which she seemed ubiquitous and beloved, a star everyone agreed upon (or else).

On Saturday, a day after her 34th birthday, she broke her silence, performing for the second time as a headliner for the Made in America festival in Philadelphia, founded by her husband Jay Z and ostentatiously sponsored by Budweiser. She debuted no material. But she did rework her catalogue extensively, and the show felt like a reassertion of Beyoncé’s powers—the effortful singing and dancing, the impeccable choreography, the attitude, the personal politics.

The rest of the show also served up striking visuals, most of which were new—not, as would be the case with other stars, recycled from previous concerts or awards ceremonies. Her On the Run tour with Jay Z last year at times bogged itself down with lengthy video interstitials; she had fewer such clips this time, and they were more amusing. In one, she balanced a birthday cake on her head as she walked along the East River, and in another, she tried to use a vacuum cleaner on a cracked sidewalk.

But the overall sense from the show was that Beyoncé wasn’t really looking to make headlines or modify peoples’ ideas about her. The most radical thing about the performance was how self-contained it was. Nicki Minaj had made a surprise appearance on the stage earlier in the day for Meek Mill’s set; online rumors said that Minaj might also join Beyoncé for “Feelin’ Myself” or “Flawless.” Similarly, the fact that Beyoncé was playing Jay Z’s own festival made a lot of audience members expect an On the Run-style collaborative song or two. It didn’t happen. While Taylor Swift hauls out a Pinterest board’s worth of celebrities on her tour stops, Beyonce is her own squad.

And why not? Check out the setlist, so full of mashups and alternate versions and mini-covers that it practically requires footnotes. This was a show all about Beyoncé’s music as a language in itself, able to be recombined and emphasized in different ways for different effects. Destiny’s Child’s hits were annexed intoBeyoncé’s solo career; so were the Beyoncé parts of a Minaj song. Though the material was old, there could be no autopilot from the woman at the center of it all—she has never performed these songs in quite this way before. She danced and sang as hard as she ever does, and if she made mistakes, I couldn’t tell. It looked liked hard work, and it looked like she could keep doing it for a long time.

StreeXB would like to thank The Atlantic for this article. Click here to read about Beyoncé’s epic return.

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