So this is goodbye. Who knew?
Apparently not those folks who jumped at the chance to join the Destiny's Child fan club after the outrageously popular group's MCI Center concert Sunday.
Um, kids -- this just in: Destiny's Child will go kaput upon the completion of its final North American tour next month.
And Beyonce Knowles and company threw themselves a whale of a going-away party at the arena, but they somehow forgot to acknowledge the farewell thing.
The three Destiny's divas did, however, remember to have their minions distribute fan-club flyers, lest the facts should ever get in the way of marketing. They also thanked their corporate sponsor, McDonald's, and pimped Beyonce's forthcoming clothing line.
At least they had enough self-discipline to refrain from urging fans to run, don't walk to the merchandise booths and load up on $20 Destiny's Child logo panties and $50 basketball jerseys and $75 pink satin jackets. Or maybe they just had a luxury tour bus to catch. Whatever.
Here is the group's walk-off image in the District: Beyonce and Kelly Rowland, onstage in the final moments of a two-hour song-and-dance spectacle, wearing sopping-wet white tank tops while goading Michelle Williams into wagging the backside of her baggy jeans in the general direction of the audience.
It was a bizarre, if bootylicious, way to call it a career -- shaking off into the ether after having performed as though it were Just Another Show, rather than the final D.C. chapter in a storybook career in which the soul-pop protagonists have become cultural mainstays and one of the best-selling female groups of all time.
The Farewell Tour That Dared Not Speak Its Name was a perfectly fine pop extravaganza otherwise, all costume changes, dance routines, flashing lights and nifty staging (trap doors, moving stairwells, giant LED screens, and a waterfall that materialized at the end of the show, just in time to give the ladies an onstage shower).
Oh, and there was some singing, too -- though how much is debatable, as the trio appeared to lean heavily on recorded vocal tracks during the 19-song set that covered all the hits ("No No No," "Say My Name," "Bills, Bills, Bills," "Survivor," "Independent Women," "Soldier," "Bootylicious," etc.).
But this was no Ashlee Simpson moment; backed by a five-piece band, the funky divas didn't try to fool their fans. At certain points during the dance routines, not one of the singers held a microphone by her face, even though you could hear all three of their voices.
There were some actual live vocal performances, though -- particularly during the solo turns that neatly established what we can expect from the various Destiny's Child cogs after their apparently amicable breakup (not to be confused with the acrimonious departures of three previous members who didn't care for the management style of Beyonce's father, Mathew).
Beyonce's cousin, Rowland, was up first, and she sparkled on her hit, "Dilemma" (performed without her duet partner Nelly). Her voice was pure, crystalline and something of a revelation sans a thick layer of studio gloss. She also suggested that she has learned quite a bit about divadom during her time in Destiny's Child, as she repeatedly encouraged the crowd to sing along to the words, "Kelly, I love you."
The far more modest Williams let her powerhouse vocals speak on her behalf as she blew through a fiery gospel song, "Do You Know."
And then there was Beyonce, the sultry center of attention, who eschewed vocal fireworks for attitude and sex appeal during "Baby Boy." Not that the crowd cared.
Beyonce is a fine if somewhat emotionally detached singer, but that's only a small part of the equation. The business of Beyonce Inc. is as much about that fierce aura and fabulous image as anything.
She sings! She acts! She dates Jay-Z! She's an identifiable-by-a-single-name star, even if, vocally, she's no Aretha.
At the end of the night, though, after the girls had regrouped for the confetti-blasting finale, it was all about the trio -- three strong, sassy, girl-power-espousing divas who have fashioned quite a career out of speak-singing their minds.
Even if they never did quite figure out how to say goodbye.