Beyonce showed no sign of slowing down after her maternity leave, singing and strutting her stuff with little break for two hours as she led around 100 back-up dancers and musicians.
Her husband, rap mogul Jay-Z, popped up on stage toward the end of her set to join in their song “Deja Vu.” But he turned out to be only a preview of a less routine guest appearance.
With an audio recording of novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay “We Should All Be Feminists” allowing Beyonce a moment to prepare, she re-emerged being elevated to the stage in an unmistakable silhouette of three figures.
Fellow Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyonce for three of the trio’s songs, including “Say My Name.”
It was their first reunion since Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show in 2013. The group propelled Beyonce to stardom but was also beset by internal friction.
On Saturday, Beyonce referred to her bandmates as her “sisters” — and was also joined on stage by her real sister, Solange Knowles.
Beyonce made clear from the start that Coachella was about reuniting, with an announcer starting the show by welcoming guests to her “homecoming.”
A school’s worth of brass and string players played from stadium-style stands as Beyonce entered to a New Orleans-style march. She sported an all-American outfit of tight jean shorts and a collegiate sweatshirt — the Greek letters, of course, starting with “B.”
After revving up the crowd with fireworks and the boisterous “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce offered a take on “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the unofficial African American national anthem.
Beyonce voiced pride that she was the first black woman to headline Coachella. She is one of the few women to top the bill of any major festival, a sign of lingering male dominance of the music industry.
Coachella takes place over two consecutive weekends with identical lineups.
Next weekend, Beyonce may want to check her shoes — after changing into a racier bodysuit, she appeared to hold herself back at moments for fear of dancing her feet out of her boots.
Watch the Coachella performance of Beyonce and Destiny’s Child here: