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Before Taylor, there was Beyoncé

Pop superstar Taylor Swift’s Australian tour brings back memories of Beyoncé’s visit to Brunswick 11 years ago

Beyonce outside the house in Beith Street.
A scene from the video for ‘No Angel’, shot in Beith Street in Brunswick in 2013. 

Mark Phillips

Warning: What follows is a shameless attempt to cash in on Taylormania. Read on at your peril.

THE story has been retold so often, it has almost become an urban myth. But every word of it is true.

Back in 2013, Beyoncé Knowles was the reigning queen of pop music, while Taylor Swift was just one of a pack of aspiring divas hoping to one day take her crown.

Swift has just celebrated her boyfriend’s Superbowl win in Las Vegas before flying to Australia for a short tour including three shows to almost 100,000 people each at the MCG on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. In 2013, Beyoncé also attended the Superbowl – to perform at half-time before a massive global TV audience.

It was later that year during Beyoncé’s The Mrs Carter Show world tour, in a break from four sold out shows at the Rod Laver Arena, that Queen Bey made a fabled visit to Brunswick on October 24.

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This was no ordinary visit. The superstar was accompanied by a veritable entourage of wardrobe assistants, make up artists, bodyguards and a full film crew.

Her destination was a rundown weatherboard cottage in Beith Street, where she was to film scenes for a music video for her song ‘No Angel’ from her self-titled album of that year.

She arrived in a black Mercedes dressed in a spotless white gown, underneath which she wore a white swimsuit.

According to media reports at the time, the house’s owners – who had lived there for 50 years – were paid just $300 for the use of their property.

The owners, who were unaware of Beyoncé’s cultural significance and fame, stayed well hidden inside while the singer posed and lip-synched on their front porch.

“When the man knocked on my door to ask if they could use my house to do the photos I thought he said they were with his fiancée, not Beyoncé,” 80-year-old owner Jeanette Meadows told the Herald Sun. “I didn’t even know who she was.”

A social media image of Beyoncé in Brunswick with one of her bodyguards at the far right.

Word soon spread of Beyoncé’s presence in Brunswick, and a posse of onlookers and fans were soon gathered outside. She also dropped into The Retreat Hotel in Sydney Road for further photos and filming.

Months later, the video for ‘No Angel’ was released and in Brunswick we scrutinised it in freeze frame for signs of any other local landmarks.

Alas, the scenes shot in Beith Street comprised of just a few seconds and were woven into the final video to look like a gritty back street in inner city America. Not to matter, the story has now gone into local folklore.

Watch the video for ‘No Angel’ (can you spot the Moreland Council recycling bin?)

The postscript to the story is that the Beith Street property was sold in 2016 for $650,000, more than 20% above the reserve. Naturally, the connection to Beyoncé was a big selling point.

Following extensive renovations the house is no longer recognisable from the time of the video shoot in 2013. Post-renovation, it sold again in May 2020 for almost $1.2 million.

So will Taylor Swift follow in Beyoncé’s steps and venture up to the inner north during her brief sojourn in Melbourne?

Perhaps she will want to sample one of the famous cheese pies at A1 Bakery. Or pay homage to the Supa IGA on the other side of Sydney Road, which is currently out of action after a fire. Or, given her career connections to Tennessee, she may want to down a few shots of Jack Daniels whiskey at Whole Lotta Love in Brunswick East before it closes next month.

If Swift is contemplating her next video, we can suggest some sights for her. The mock Roman interior of the Moreland Hotel, perhaps? Or what about the Brunswick Velodrome?

It probably won’t happen. But you never know … do you?

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