of Dani Strehle/PopWrapped
This is not real life
. Such was the theme throughout almost the entirety of Beyonce and Jay-Z's spectacular On The Run
show. As I sat on a shaded party deck with a cool breeze coming off the Ohio River waiting for this dynamic pair to appear, those five words unceasingly stared at me from screens taller than a two-story building.
Mr. and Mrs. Carter attracted a throng of about 30,000 screaming, sweating fans to Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park; and just as dusk was starting to set in, music's most influential power couple graced us with their otherworldly presence.
On the enormous screens behind them, a tailor-made movie was playing; a Bonnie & Clyde theme to go along with their duet. The duo play extremely well off of each other, and it's evident that their affection is palpable. After a few songs performed together, Jay-Z would drop down into the stage and let Bey shine and do her thing.
Let me be clear about something: I was there for Beyonce and Beyonce only. Rap/hip-hop is not my genre. But even I have to admit that Jay-Z sounded amazing and his energy was infectious. With nothing to compare it to, I'm no authority, but my husband who accompanied me and loves hip-hop said it was the best rap show he's witnessed.
With new hits like "Drunk in Love" and "Flawless" intermingled with her classics like "Crazy in Love," "Single Ladies" and "Baby Boy;" Beyonce really was on fire. And Jay-Z even dusted off some oldies like "Big Pimpin'," "Hard Knock Life" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder." (Full set-list here
I honestly spent most of the concert too enamored and awed to really dance and sing along. Beyonce's beauty emanated off the stage in a powerful force that washed over everyone in the stadium. Her dance moves were on point, her vocals were strong and it was obvious to everyone that she was having the time of her life.
Behind the couple, the movie reel continued to play and at one point showcased some mugshots of famous people (Justin Bieber, Bill Gates and even Jay-Z himself, to name a few) to showcase that life is a bitch; but if you keep on keeping on, this too shall pass. The special effects of the show were surprisingly simplistic. With a few shows of pyrotechnics and some lights and spots, it was just enough. Because, to be honest, these two don't need anything but their voices and their presence to really rock the house.
When the first notes of Beyonce's "We Run the World (Girls)" came on, I knew we were in for a treat. She absolutely slayed this performance and with the assistance of her backup dancers and some empowering scenes on the big screens, you could feel the female pride surging through the crowd. We danced and shouted with her and when the screens shot to just the word FEMINIST we lost our minds. There is nobody that can muster female empowerment quite like Bey.
When Beyonce finally went into her popular song "Love on Top," my trance was finally broken and I was singing and dancing with the rest of the crowd. And I do mean the whole crowd. Many times both performers handed the songs over to the crowd and I'm certain we could be heard from across the River in Northern Kentucky. Beyonce and Jay-Z interacted with their fans, they got us involved. They offered us their thanks for sharing this special night with them. At one point, they even walked down a runway to the middle of the field to perform on a small stage directly surrounded by fans in the pit. They shook hands, they blew kisses, they made eye contact. They were not aloof; quite the opposite. These megastars made us believe that they were really humbled and grateful for the crowd's adoration of them. And adore them we did.
Earlier in this post I mentioned the theme of their tour, "This Is Not Real Life." And with their overly dramatic film reel in the background, it was easy to get on board with that theme. But then Jay and Bey turned the tables on us. Their last performance of the night was a stunningly beautiful mash-up of Jay-Z's "Forever Young" and my favorite Beyonce tune, "Halo." During this number, Jay-Z asked the crowd to light the place up with lighters, cell phones, anything they had; and the place was on fire.
The film reel was replaced with a compilation of home videos featuring Blue Ivy and the rest of their adorable family. One simple phrase was superimposed over the videos: This is real life.
And after I was able to clear the tears from my eyes, I screamed and hooped and hollered and clapped until my hands hurt; the show was over. And with that, Beyonce and Jay-Z made their way back to the main stage where they embraced and shared a kiss, thanked us for being with them, and departed the stage hand-in-hand. And that is how the On The Run
show came to be in my top 3 concerts of all-time; accompanied by Sir Paul McCartney and Billy Joel & Elton John's Face-to-Face tour where I was able to get their autographs.
My score for the concert? A+++++++++. If I keep going I will inevitably gush; it's just what I do. So let me just end it by saying that this rocker whose most recent concerts have included Heart, The Who, Eric Clapton, Incubus, Steve Miller Band and Aerosmith will be broadening her horizons and trying to integrate more pop and hip-hop into her musical diet. I have been converted, and the thirst is real.
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