Jay-Z and Beyoncé
Soldier Field, Chicago
Friday, August 10, 2018
“What’s better than one billionaire?” rapped Jay-Z during “Family Feud” at the first of two Soldier Field stops for the “On The Run II” Tour (that continues Saturday, August 11), before answering with an emphatic “two!” He was, of course, referring to “the most incredible lady” Beyoncé, who in addition to being a co-headliner and collaborator on The Carters’ brand new album Everything Is Love, is also the other half to the celebrity super couple that’s indeed a billion-dollar combination in every aspect of the relationship.
Fans who sold out this sequel to the 2014 outing were greeted by the pair entering on a downward elevator, which could’ve been a cheeky way of brushing aside the endless rumors surrounding their marriage’s stability, the most practical way to descend a several story stage that filled the entire end zone or perhaps a bit of both. Either way, the foundation of their creative and personal union appeared stronger than ever as the two clasped hands and exchanged eyeball adoration while blowing the figurative roof off the joint with “Holy Grail.”
From then until almost three hours later, Jayoncé tore through complete or abbreviated editions of more than 40 selections in collaborative contexts such as “Part II (On The Run),” “‘03 Bonnie & Clyde” and “Drunk In Love,” alongside solo moments (Bey’s “Naughty Girl” and “Ring The Alarm,” Jay’s “Big Pimpin’” and “99 Problems”). With each segment, there was naturally a grand scene change that landed somewhere between a Broadway blockbuster and a Las Vegas revue, complete with an extensive band and enough dancers to fill two parallel runways.
Even with all the bling and extra bodies, the partners were positively the stars of the show with each of them seeming like they are increasingly rubbing off on the other. Jay-Z may have brought much more of the hip-hop side out of Beyoncé, but she appears to have returned the favor by getting her man to up his game as a stadium-level entertainer (not that he needed all that many pointers).
Together and apart, they were truly unstoppable with Bey proudly proclaiming “ladies, you know it’s your flaws that make you flawless” to accompany the anthem of the same name, while the absence of former local Kanye West was barely noticed throughout Jay’s colossal “Niggas In Paris.” He even got a bigger guy in the crowd to cut loose surrounding “Beach Is Better” by playfully insisting “I’m the coolest mother fucker in America. If I jump [so can you].”
Beyoncé kept the conversations going through her galvanizing lyrics, especially when slaying her way through “Formation” and boldly insisting “always stay gracious, the best revenge is your paper,” plus plowing into the equally female-focused “Run The World (Girls).” Jay kept the fellas bouncing right next to the gals come the pulsating “Public Service Announcement,” which wound up being a very close tie with “Crazy In Love” as the evening’s epic cornerstone.
The concert reached its apex when the duo performed on a secondary stage that raised above the ground floor as Beyoncé belted out Alphaville’s “Forever Young” before Jay-Z flipping it to his own “Young Forever” (intermingled with Queen Bey’s portion of the Ed Sheeran duet “Perfect”). The Carters ended on the newer note of “APESHIT,” but that didn’t stop the masses who hung on every word from embodying the celebratory aspects of that exact phrase until the very last beat dropped.
Usually, an opening act for artists of either caliber wouldn’t warrant a mention, but DJ Khaled is a household name in his own right who keeps on winning (at least as far as the radio is concerned). His hype may have gotten everyone loose, but it was actually a cameo from Chicago’s own Vic Mensa, and a string of vital contributions from fellow hometown hero Chance The Rapper that had Soldier Field flipped completely upside down as they immensely elevated the weekend’s star-studded expectations.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé return to Soldier Field (SoldierField.net and LiveNation.com) on Saturday, August 11.
-Review by Andy Argyrakis
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