This was the most powerful woman in music delivering a passionate appeal to make Hillary Clinton the most powerful woman in the world.

Beyoncé told the millennial-heavy audience at a free concert in Cleveland, Ohio that she wanted her daughter growing up in a world where she knew her possibilities were limitless.

"Less than 100 years ago women did not have the right to vote. Look how far we've come from having no voice to being on the brink of making history by electing the first woman president."

This was a compelling night of positive political messages. There was little sign of the negative rhetoric that has dominated speeches by Clinton and Donald Trump throughout the final full week of campaigning.


The concert was billed as a show by Beyonce's husband Jay Z but news of her involvement leaked the day before. There were spots from Big Sean, Chance the Rapper and J Cole too.

Beyonce delivered a mesmerising set of poise and power that contained snatches or full versions of many of her biggest hits. Throughout her set and the night, slogans reinforcing the value of voting flashed up on a giant screen above the stage.

Her set ended with a duet with her husband, who sent the arena bonkers when he loped on stage promising "we have the power to change the world".

Beyoncé and her husband kissed and hugged before he introduced Clinton.

"We are here tonight because respect matters to me," he said. "I don't have any ill will towards (Trump) but his conversation is divisive .. so he cannot be my president ... he cannot be our president."

Clinton took the stage and said: "When I see down here this passion and energy and intensity I don't know where to begin because this is what America is."

She spoke of breaking the glass ceiling once and for all. In a rare reference to her opponent she urged the crowd to reject Trump's "dark and divine vision and embrace a hopeful, inclusive, unifying America."

She said she was energised. She needs to be. Ohio is one of several key states still in the balance.

If nothing else, Clinton can be confident of victory in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County.

This is an old city by US standards with a proud history of unionism. Democrat blue and blue collar.

The city is also the birthplace of rock 'n' roll. It's where radio DJ Alan Freed first used the term to describe the upbeat, black rhythm and blues music he played in the 1950s.

Beyonce performs during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Photo / AP
Beyonce performs during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Photo / AP

It's a fitting location for a night that provided a timely reminder of the power of music to bring people together.

No wonder this isn't the only concert of its kind.

Clinton has enlisted Cher, Katy Perry, Jon Bon Jovi, Pharrell and Stevie Wonder too.

While celebrities backing presidential candidates is nothing new, the array of stars assembled by Clinton is unprecedented.

There are suggestions it's rocked Trump.

Hours before the Jay Z show, his campaign issued a statement from Cleveland
community leader Reverend Darrell Scott who dismissed it as "pandering".

"Hillary Clinton's hypocrisy is on full display again as she raises up Jay Z as a role model for youth in Cleveland," it read.

"For all of her talk about fighting for kids, she has no problem sharing a stage with someone who glamorises acts of violence and having pushed drugs in our local communities.

"Donald Trump has spent time meeting with our community and has a plan for urban renewal that will allow black youth to achieve their American dreams through hard work, while Hillary Clinton continues to resort to stereotypical election year pandering."

It remains to be seen whether Clinton maintains the positive vibes until Election Day. But she finished tonight on a high note - with her traditional reminder that "love trumps hate".

Beyoncé and her husband kissed and hugged before he introduced Clinton. Photo / AP
Beyoncé and her husband kissed and hugged before he introduced Clinton. Photo / AP

Keeping the crowd upbeat before speeches

It's not only specially arranged concerts that make music part of the campaign.

Crowds at rallies have the pleasure of, presumably, specially chosen tunes before the headline speaker takes the stage.

I say presumably because neither campaign answered a request for comment on how much of a role their presidential candidate has in choosing the tunes.

It's unlikely Donald Trump has been slaving away all night over a mixtape, but it's a nice image.

So who's top of the pops?

Clinton's playlist is the more current of the two. Insipid electronic pop from Demi Lovato (Confident), Kris Allen (Fighters) and the Gym Class Heroes (The Fighter - just the one this time) sit uneasily alongside the wretched Just One Love by Michael Bolton and cringey Woman in the White House by Sheryl Crow. Clinton's best selection is Pharrell's Freedom.

Whatever happens on Election Day, Trump's got one victory under his belt. He's Mr Music with a soundtrack of classic Stones and the curveball of Nessus Dorma in the mix. Well Balearic.

The choice of Stones tracks is a tad surprising. Surely Let's Spend The Night Together is a tad suspect given the claims about his approaches to women. And does he know You Can't Always Get What You Want is about trying to score drugs in New York?

Odd choices? Not half pop pickers. Groovy though.

• Chris Reed travelled to the US with the assistance of the US embassy in Wellington.