Jay Z is a global superstar, half of one of the world’s best-known power couples, and collaborator with Kanye West and Rihanna (to name a few). But after a lukewarm press reception to his latest album, some may have assumed the album’s tour would have gone in the same direction.
His album Magna Carta Holy Grail received only a 6/10 rating in NME magazine. However, what seemingly lacked in album content was made up for in his performance at London’s O2 Arena.
Despite a relatively minimal set, consisting of just his backing band and three large intermittently flashing disco dance-floor cubes hanging from the ceiling, all that was needed at the 10 October show was a single spotlight and Jay Z’s natural talent.
He kicked off with various songs from his latest album, including recent chart-topper “Holy Grail”, featuring Justin Timberlake.
A surprising moment came in the five minute interlude, when we were introduced to super-producer Timberland, who had been on set the whole time, hiding in Jay Z’s shadow. Timberland teased the crowd with a quick remix of “Cry Me A River” – arguably his best known collaboration with Timberlake.
All of a sudden, an hour and a half had passed and the rapper moved on to what could only be described as an explosion of all his best known anthems: “N**gas in Paris”, “99 Problems” and “Run This Town”. And, perhaps most appropriately, the audience was treated to “Izzo (H.O.V.A)”, which opened with the lyrics, “Thanks for comin’ out tonight, you coulda been anywhere in the world, but you’re here with me, I appreciate that.”
In between these delights and his ultimate encore, he took the time to pick out individuals from the crowd to follow up his lyrical prose in showing his appreciation for everyone who came out. The crowd fed off the buzz projected from the stage, hanging on to the rapper’s every word.
The show concluded with “Forever Young”, an old but successful collaboration with Mr Hudson. You could feel the crowd look on in awe as they were asked to take out their phones and lighters, creating a breathtaking vision as the arena lit up. It was an emotional ending to an unforgettable night.