The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour isn't Beyonce's best.
It's not even in the same league as her two previous outings -- The Beyoncé Experience (2007) and I Am ... World Tour (2009-10) -- both of which were A-plus affairs.
The current trek isn't even a "B." It's more like a "C" -- as in, it's probably OK if you don't "see" it.
What makes this such a shame is that longtime fans know Beyoncé can do much better. Indeed, she's capable of delivering a pop spectacle like few others in the business. But she didn't do it on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
And I blame the tour itself, and they way the concert is choreographed, rather than the possibility that Beyoncé just had an off night.
The show, which will return to the same venue on Dec. 2, was full of perplexing problems. The production was poorly planned and executed, especially in the way the longtime hits were handled. There was plenty of filler in the set list, mostly hailing from Beyonce's latest offering, 2011's "4." It never felt like the show was building toward anything meaningful, except, of course, the inevitable downpour of confetti.
On the plus side, Beyoncé sounded great and looked even better. But two hours of disjointed moments rarely jell into one satisfying evening, no matter how talented the performer.
Queen B kicked off the show in royal fashion, appearing in front of her 11-member female band to belt out two cuts from "4" -- "Run the World (Girls)" and "End of Time." She boogied alongside 10 dancers, while her hair amazingly always seemed to have just the right amount of breeze blowing through it, and then fireworks rained down from the ceiling.
Whatever momentum she gained with the opening segment, however, quickly dissipated as she left the stage to make the first of many wardrobe changes. In all, she spent way too much time offstage, leaving the crowd to soak up one self-congratulatory video after another.
The first half of the set was almost entirely forgettable, as Beyoncé fed the crowd a steady diet of bland ballads and marginally interesting up-tempo numbers.
The mediocrity definitely took its toll on the crowd. At the start of the show, the screams rivaled what one hears at a Justin Bieber or One Direction show. An hour later, the scene was decidedly more subdued.
Ironically, things didn't improve much once Beyoncé finally got around to the so-called good stuff. She further sabotaged the show by singing an abbreviated version of the Destiny's Child classic "Survivor" and by adding a bit of "Movin' on Up" (yes, the theme song from TV's "The Jeffersons") to her own smash "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." Both were bad ideas.
She closed the main set in rather unimpressive fashion with the new cut/TV commercial jingle "Grown Woman," which served as a preview of Beyonce's next album -- as well as a sales pitch for Pepsi. It didn't make me want to buy the album, but darn if I didn't have a sudden urge to go buy a soft drink.
She bounced back in the encore, delivering a faithful snippet of the Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston favorite "I Will Always Love You" and then -- the song of the night -- "Halo."
Sadly, it was the only truly heavenly moment of the show.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.
When: Dec. 2
Where: HP Pavilion in San Jose
Tickets: $45-$250, www.ticketmaster.com
Online: To see a setlist from Tuesday's show, go to www.mercurynews.com/music.