The next night, the big guns came out. Literally and figuratively -- on Saturday, BeyoncÉ and Jay Z brought their overstuffed 21/2-hour "On The Run" tour to sold-out
The most prominent power couple in music -- she's in the top spot of the Forbes Celebrity 100, he's No. 6 -- put on a 44-song hip-hop and pop action-packed extravaganza. It featured high fashion, home movies, and a lot of hits, not to mention a pistol-packing faux French nouvelle vague film that cast the duo as outlaws and descended into a Tarantino-esque shoot-'em-up as it filled up costume-change interstitial space.
The show, which began with " '03 Bonnie and Clyde" -- she in fishnet ski mask, he in black leather and shades -- even came with a disclaimer. "This Is Not Real Life," declared the big-screen backdrop, as the probably 70 percent female audience -- more Girls Night Out than Date Night -- filled the seats on a breezy summer evening.
That warning was likely intended to ward off criticism that the film irresponsibly glamorizes violence -- the words "This is not a gun" also appeared when super cool-looking Jay or Bey was pointing a six-shooter in the
But the words also served as a reminder that musical drama is not meant to be taken as autobiography. Particularly the hints at marital strife, such as his "Song Cry" and her "Resentment," which she sang while wearing a white wedding veil, seated on a stage in the middle of the crowd. It included the fiercely sung, recently added lyric: "She ain't even half of me / That b- will never be me."
You got that right. Whomever BeyoncÉ was referring to, the assertion that no competitors can measure up was reasserted throughout the show, in which wife and husband often performed together, and alternated two song sets of their own.
She was perfectly fab on her own -- the vocal showcase "Haunted," the feminist one-two punch of "Run The World (Girls)" and "Flawless," the latter including a sample of a 2013 TED talk by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
But in this setting,
That was best demonstrated on the songs in which she stood in for a male vocalist heard on the original. On the sentimental palliative "Young Forever," she replaced the wan
Better still was "Holy Grail," Jay Z's hit with
Of course, it wasn't just the BeyoncÉ Show. Jay Z is a supremely confident and highly polished performer capable of holding in rapt attention a stadium full of fans who know his every rhyme by heart. And he did, repeatedly, alone on stage backed by a live band hidden from view on a succession of classics. "Big Pimpin'," "99 Problems," "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" -- the rap-along hits just kept coming.
Assorted quibbles: The film grew more aimless as the evening wore on. Didn't Kanye and Kim already motorcycle-ride through the desert in the "Bound 2" video? And for all the mileage the couple get out of their branded image as a musical and business alliance in a grown up, erotically charged marriage -- "Drunk in Love" as they put it, in the recent hit that fizzled Saturday -- there were few moments of human interaction between the stars or with the audience.
Otherwise, a highly entertaining, excitingly staged knockout of a show.
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